Local jails are the gateway to the U.S. justice system, but they are overloaded, overused and under-covered by resource-strapped journalists.
While local jails were intended to house people who were deemed to be a societal danger or flight risk before trial, they have become warehouses — often for people who have not been convicted of a crime and cannot afford to bail themselves out. In many cities, jails are increasingly filled with women, juveniles, immigrants and people who suffer from addictions and mental illness.
This intensive two-day workshop will focus on understanding the causes and consequences of local jail incarceration and explore some ways that communities are addressing the issue. Poynter’s experts and experienced journalists will help reporters find engaging stories and reliable data so they can provide aggressive and thoughtful coverage of this vitally important topic. The sessions will be practical, inspiring and non-political. You can expect to return to your newsroom with a notebook full of specific, local story ideas and confidence in your ability to report them.
Three workshops around the country
We will take this workshop on the road to three cities in 2022 to make it easier for you to get to us. Each location gives us the opportunity to include local experts and focus on unique issues.
In this workshop in St. Petersburg, Florida, our visiting faculty will share new research on who’s in jails and prison and what efforts have produced positive results to lower prison and jail populations. We’ll also explore the evidence about whether bail reform leads to higher crime rates. You will learn from an addictions medicine physician about why jails and prisons need robust treatment programs since the majority of incarcerated people also have addictions in their background.
This workshop is part of the effort Poynter began four years ago to help journalists cover jails and incarceration in the United States. With our funder, MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, and our partners at the Vera Institute of Justice and The Marshall Project, Poynter has reached over 1,000 journalists in at least 45 states with practical and expert teaching on jails in the United States. We have taught in-person workshops from coast to coast and border to border including Dallas, New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Baltimore and Columbus. Here’s what some of our participants have had to say:
This workshop gave insight on a side of our justice system that we cover, but rarely consider. It gave me a fresh perspective on what goes on behind bars, and how improving our jails can actually improve society.
Learning the data I believe was most important. With that knowledge, I can localize the national numbers and trends to my own coverage area.
I have written a lot of jail stories, but this workshop really demonstrated some other and better ways to hit on the bail/bond, jail population and other issues by using data and public records to identify the people it affects.
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