As the nation continued wrestling with each its racial reckoning and the pandemic this 12 months, The Marshall Challenge dug deeper to show methods which have resisted change. We investigated taking pictures deaths by U.S. Marshals, the usage of Tasers and different police violence on youngsters throughout the nation, the risks of hogtie restraints and the excessive charge of police shootings in rural America. We examined earlier accusations of use of drive by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin as he was tried for the homicide of George Floyd. We additionally continued monitoring COVID-19 in prisons because the pandemic endured, and supplied data on vaccines on to people who find themselves incarcerated.
In 2021, our reporters found that almost every state was pocketing Social Safety and different advantages owed to youngsters in foster take care of their very own company’s budgets. We delved into the nationwide scarcity of correctional officers, defined how that led to violence at Rikers Island in New York Metropolis and located federal information displaying that cops weren’t abandoning their jobs, as many individuals believed. We additionally did an in-depth examination of the extreme variety of folks serving life with out parole, a rising variety of whom are ladies.
We took time to look at the language we use to explain people who find themselves at the moment or had been previously incarcerated, and we developed tips that get rid of labels and concentrate on the person. We shared these findings with different journalists, which sparked conversations in different newsrooms about how one can confer with individuals who’ve been arrested or jailed.
This 12 months and at all times, we stay dedicated to tenacious, goal and truthful investigative reporting, to show the failings of our felony justice system and spotlight potential reforms. As we take inventory of our work in 2021 on a spread of urgent matters, we need to specific our gratitude for readers such as you. Your contributions are important to our journalism.
Use of drive
Earlier than Chauvin’s trial, reporters Jamiles Lartey and Abbie VanSickle examined a half dozen earlier cases wherein Chauvin choked somebody throughout an arrest. They interviewed three of these folks and a witness to a different choking incident; it was the primary time they talked publicly about their experiences with Chauvin. “Trying again on Mr. Floyd, that would have been me,” Jimmy Bostic mentioned.
Reporter Joseph Neff discovered that regardless of warnings from the Division of Justice going again to 1995, some police departments are nonetheless utilizing hogtie restraints to subdue folks. Neff and NBC reporter Emily Siegel identified at least 23 deaths in police custody involving hogtying since 2010. In a separate investigation with NBC, Neff, VanSickle and Simone Weichselbaum found that tens of 1000’s of individuals find yourself in emergency rooms due to violent encounters with police yearly.
Weichselbaum’s investigation with The Arizona Republic and USA At the moment Community uncovered that, lately, U.S. Marshals and their companions have been chasing people who find themselves needed for native crimes, not federal ones. Between 2015 and 2020, not less than 177 folks had been shot by a U.S. Marshal, Marshals job drive officer or native officer assigned to assist a job drive with an arrest. That’s greater than some huge metropolis police departments like Houston and Philadelphia.
Alysia Santo, working with the Kentucky Heart for Investigative Reporting and The New York Instances, found that the Kentucky State Police had more fatal shootings in rural communities than some other regulation enforcement company. Troopers there killed not less than 41 folks over a six-year interval, 33 of them in rural areas, the place there have been few witnesses and officers weren’t sporting physique cameras. No officer was prosecuted in these shootings.
Use of drive circumstances also can contain emergency personnel. In a narrative additionally printed with USA At the moment Community, Beth Schwartzapfel and Cary Aspinwall appeared on the rare cases when paramedics face punishment for his or her function in violent police incidents.
Concentrating on teenagers
Violent police encounters don’t solely occur with adults. Abbie VanSickle and information reporter Weihua Li dug by information from a half dozen massive police departments and discovered that a striking number of Black women encounter police violence. In New Orleans, for example, each woman in use-of-force information was Black. In Alabama, Wendy Ruderman and VanSickle additionally explored how tough it’s to carry police accountable in these incidents and the lingering trauma caused to teens who’ve had violent encounters with officers. Each tales had been printed with USA At the moment Community, and the Alabama story was printed with the Montgomery Advertiser and AL.com.
Important however forgotten staff
Guatemalan immigrants in New Bedford, Massachusetts, have proved important to the town’s seafood business. They pay taxes, and plenty of of their youngsters are American-born residents. However these households had been excluded from the federal advantages they should survive economically through the pandemic as a result of the mother and father are undocumented. In “Essential but Excluded,” reporters Julia Preston and Ariel Goodman inform the story of this tight-knit neighborhood, and the way President Biden’s Construct Again Higher social coverage may assist them.
Analyzing the dying penalty
The Marshall Challenge tracked each execution in the US for greater than 5 years, and editor Tom Meagher wrapped up our Next to Die project in early 2021. A nationwide community of newsrooms helped us observe executions throughout that point, recounting the circumstances of the 120 individuals who had been put to dying between August 2015 and February 2021.
There nonetheless are a whole lot of individuals on dying row, and we’re persevering with to cowl them. A kind of was Raymond Riles, who had been on Texas’ dying row since 1976. In “He’s Too Mentally Ill to Execute. Why Is He Still on Death Row After 45 Years?,” Keri Blakinger and Maurice Chammah wrote about his 45 years on dying row, regardless of being dominated incompetent to face trial — a destiny that’s not unusual.
In a Life Inside essay, we additionally appeared on the dying penalty from the attitude of somebody sentenced to die. Billie J. Allen, who was sentenced to federal dying row in 1998 for armed theft and homicide, wrote about his feelings of guilt when he survived the 13 executions ordered by President Donald Trump earlier than he left workplace.
COVID-19 in prisons
As a part of our examination of how COVID-19 affected folks in prisons, reporter Nicole Lewis started corresponding with a number of incarcerated folks in March 2020 about their experiences. A 12 months later, four of them shared their stories of survival, documenting the chaos, concern and isolation they’d skilled.
As COVID-19 vaccines began rolling out this spring, engagement reporter Ariel Goodman surveyed dozens of individuals in jail to seek out out their commonest questions. She then put collectively a fact sheet for our News Inside publication that households may mail their family members in jail for free of charge. The knowledge was additionally translated into Spanish. We additionally devoted an episode of Inside Story — our TV present created for incarcerated audiences — to demystifying COVID-19 vaccines behind bars.
Foster care spoils
Reporter Eli Hager turned thinking about a lawsuit in Alaska that challenged the state’s apply of taking federal advantages owed to youngsters in foster care and utilizing them for the company’s finances. He and NPR reporter Joe Shapiro discovered that the issue went far past Alaska. Nearly each state was taking Social Safety advantages meant for foster youth who’ve disabilities or whose mother and father have died. Our story focused on a half dozen younger individuals who’d misplaced cash that would have helped them get established after they left foster care. A companion piece gave anybody who had been in foster care recommendations on how one can discover out if their state had taken cash owed to them. Michelle Pitcher, Weihua Li and David Eads on our information crew put collectively a searchable state-by-state database to permit anybody to test their state’s insurance policies on utilizing these advantages.
Life with out parole
As the usage of the dying penalty has dwindled in the US, life-without-parole sentences have risen dramatically. Folks going through these sentences, although, have fewer choices for attraction and infrequently have much less competent counsel. Cary Aspinwall has delved into the results of those lifetime sentences this 12 months, specializing in Texas, Florida and Louisiana. In partnership with the Dallas Morning Information, she wrote about Shuranda Williams, who spent greater than a 12 months within the county jail with no bail listening to on costs that would put her in jail for all times.
Aspinwall and information reporter Weihua Li discovered that Florida has way more folks serving life with out parole than some other state, and virtually 1 / 4 of the overall nationwide. One motive is a two-strikes regulation that requires most punishment for individuals who commit a felony inside three years of leaving jail, even for housebreaking or different nonviolent crimes. With our companions on the Tampa Bay Instances, we told the stories of two Floridians caught up by this law.
Then in Louisiana, Aspinwall and Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Lea Skene appeared on the growing variety of ladies serving life with out parole and told the story of a younger mom jailed for all times after Hurricane Katrina when her child died.
The Language Challenge
Quickly after our founding, The Marshall Challenge started asking individuals who have been incarcerated what phrases they most popular for use to explain them. However this 12 months, we made concrete selections about phrases we’ll and won’t use. We got here to grasp that phrases comparable to “inmate” should not impartial, and subsequently developed a coverage that makes use of people-first language. Editor Akiba Solomon defined our decision-making course of in “What Words We Use — and Avoid — When Covering People and Incarceration.” We additionally printed 5 essays that delved into these points, together with “I Am Not Your ‘Inmate’” by Information Inside editor Lawrence Bartley and “People-First Language Matters. So Does the Rest of the Story.” by reporter Wilbert L. Cooper.
The launch of Inside Story
This 12 months, we launched a video collection known as Inside Story for audiences each inside and outdoors of jail, starting with “The Making of ‘Superpredators.’” Lawrence Bartley and Donald Washington Jr. create and edit video segments that delve into Marshall Challenge tales, interviewing our journalists and friends who discuss their expertise with the felony justice system. Within the inaugural episode, Marshall Challenge president Carroll Bogert and others focus on the roots of the time period “superpredator” and the function it performed in dehumanizing younger folks concerned within the justice system. Our movies are being proven in additional than 200 prisons and jails, throughout 35 states, on facility televisions and tablets. You can also watch the episodes on YouTube, Vimeo and The Marshall Challenge’s web site.
Life after parole
In one in all our Life Inside essays, reporter Lakeidra Chavis labored along with her uncle, Alfonso Cobb, to tell the story of his release from parole after a decade. He had excessive hopes for his first 12 months of actual of freedom. He bought a job, as he’d hoped. However he minimize his hand working a noticed within the hardwood manufacturing unit this summer season and is now spending weeks in bodily remedy and watching his financial savings dwindle. Nonetheless, he’s making an attempt to “keep centered on being grateful for what I do have. It’s a blessing to only be out of jail and to be alive.”
A private perspective
Investigative reporter Keri Blakinger began a daily function known as Inside Out in partnership with NBC Information, delving into points going through people who find themselves or had been incarcerated. Blakinger, who was previously incarcerated, is ready to present an insider’s view of the felony justice system. In her first six months, she wrote about previously incarcerated folks being banned from dating apps, haunted by online mugshots and excluded from jobs.
Utilizing information to inform tales
We continued our concentrate on what underlying information can inform us about felony justice and racial disparities in 2021. As different media reported that discouraged cops had been leaving their jobs en masse, information reporters Weihua Li and Ilica Mahajan found that federal information didn’t again that up. In “Police Say Demoralized Officers Are Quitting In Droves. Labor Data Says No,” co-published with Time, they reported that lower than 1% of officers had left native departments within the earlier 12 months.
Working with The Upshot, senior information reporter Anna Flagg used a century-old report on physicians to bring perspective to the gap in mortality charges between Black and White People.
Psychological well being and incarceration
Reporter Christie Thompson dug into the conditional launch program in California meant to transition folks to unbiased residing who’ve spent years in a psychiatric hospital. Known as CONREP, the supervision system severely limits the place folks reside, whether or not they can work and who they’re allowed to see. CONREP is purposefully structured to assist stop violent relapses. However in “No Driving, No Working, No Dating,” co-published with the Los Angeles Instances, Thompson discovered that many individuals spend years in limbo making an attempt to work their method out of this system and again to independence.
Circumstances in prisons and jails
Employees shortages are a perennial problem for prisons, however the coronavirus pandemic has led to a staffing disaster. A crew of reporters — Keri Blakinger, Jamiles Lartey, Beth Schwartzapfel and Christie Thompson — teamed up with The Related Press to doc the affect of the scarcity in “As Corrections Officers Quit in Droves, Prisons Get Even More Dangerous.”
As New York Metropolis’s Rikers Island jail complicated was overrun with violence, Beth Schwartzapfel and Lawrence Bartley talked to detainees, corrections officers, a jail monitor and the commissioner of the town’s Division of Correction. “Dispatch From Deadly Rikers Island: “It Looks Like a Slave Ship in There,” supplied a harrowing image of life within the jail.
The correct to vote once more
Greater than a dozen states expanded voting rights for folks with felony convictions between 2016 and 2020. However reporters Nicole Lewis and Andrew R. Calderon found that only a fraction of the tens of millions of individuals newly allowed to register to vote had made it onto voter rolls in 4 key states — Nevada, Kentucky, Iowa and New Jersey. Not more than 1 in 4 previously incarcerated folks had been registered in these states, primarily as a result of they had been unaware they may. A companion story explained how reporters and others may test on registration numbers of their states. Louisville Courier-Journal and USA At the moment Community co-published with us.
The saga of Badfish
In “A Bestselling Author Became Obsessed With Freeing a Man From Prison. It Nearly Ruined Her Life,” journalist Abbott Kahler unraveled how creator Sara Gruen turned consumed by her quest to assist Charles Murdoch. It began with a letter from Murdoch, who signed off, “Badfish.” By 2021, Gruen was, “completely broke,” “severely sick,” and her present work in progress is “years previous deadline,” Kahler wrote. The article was co-published with New York Journal.