Source:Meg Kissinger, Jessica Priest and Gary Harki
Affiliation:Columbia University, The Victoria Advocate and The Virginian-Pilot
There are thousands of jails across the country, and all of them are dealing with a mental health crisis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates about 2 million mentally ill people are booked into jails every year. Sheriffs from Florida to Oregon will tell you that they've got people locked up for low-level offenses because there's nowhere else to put them. It's straining local budgets and leading to deaths. But how to report on it? Jails are some of the most opaque institutions in the country, and even when sheriffs and superintendents will talk, the story they have to tell is complex and weaves together criminal justice, social services, politics and science. Reporters who have investigated abuses and deaths of the mentally ill in jails will discuss how to report on and explain this complex problem to readers.