Prepping for Parole

A group of volunteers is helping incarcerated people negotiate a system that is all but broken.

Source: New Yorker
Published: Nov 25, 2019
Length: 40 minutes (10,000 words)

How One Woman’s Fight to Save Her Family Helped Lead to a Mass Exoneration

On Chicago’s Southside, Clarissa Glenn worked for ten years to get her husband out of prison after crooked cops planted evidence on him. Her efforts ended up overturning thirty-two other convictions.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: May 28, 2018
Length: 30 minutes (7,630 words)

Fighting for the Poor Under Trump

A profile of 28-year-old New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres, the first openly gay elected official in the Bronx and the youngest elected official in the city. Torres—who grew up in a Bronx housing project across the street from a former garbage dump that is now a Trump-owned golf course—has been fighting for the poor as chair of the Committee on Public Housing.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Dec 9, 2016
Length: 18 minutes (4,699 words)

Home Free

How a New York State prisoner became a jailhouse lawyer, and changed the system.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jun 13, 2016
Length: 30 minutes (7,588 words)

A Daughter’s Death

After the murder of his daughter, a father sets out to find ways to stop the cycle of violence in his community.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Sep 28, 2015
Length: 36 minutes (9,244 words)

The Wrong Way

On Oct. 3, 2013, 34-year-old Miriam Carey drove through a White House checkpoint while her one-year-old daughter sat in the back of her car. A car chase ensued, and Carey ended up dead. Gonnerman traces the incident, revealing that Miriam had been diagnosed with “postpartum depression with psychosis” and showing how a media circus distorted the tragedy as it occurred.

Source: Mother Jones
Published: Mar 12, 2015
Length: 20 minutes (5,003 words)

Before the Law

A story about a crippled legal system: Sixteen-year-old Kalief Browder spent three years imprisoned on Rikers Island on robbery charges with shaky evidence. His case never went to trial.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Sep 29, 2014
Length: 28 minutes (7,016 words)

‘Did Your Father Touch You?”’

A daughter regrets the lie that sent her father to prison:

When he asks Chaneya why she told officials at the medical clinic that her father had sexually assaulted her, she gives the same answer three times: “I don’t know.”

When he asks what she’d say to the judge if he interrogated her about why she lied, she doesn’t quite answer the question, instead saying, “I want my father to come back home.”

The interview ends after 25 minutes, but then her grandmother asks one final question: Where did the story that she told on the witness stand come from?

“I just made it up,” she says.

Published: Dec 29, 2013
Length: 22 minutes (5,595 words)

The Man Who Charged Himself With Murder

[Not single-page] In the fall of 1993, Trevell Coleman, a former rapper part of Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy crew, shot a man and fled. Haunted by the incident, Coleman turns himself in to the police nearly two decades later:

“Several years after they got married, he told her that he’d fired a gun at a stranger when he was a teenager. ‘One time he said he shot someone and they lived,’ she says. Another time, it was a slightly different story: ‘He shot someone, and he doesn’t know what happened to them.’ She wasn’t sure what to think. Once, while he was high, he’d announced he was Jesus. He’d also accused her of being a cop. At least three times, he’d been carted off to hospital psych wards.

“Coleman confided his secret to three other people, too: his mother, his daughter’s mother, and a friend. He recalls that his mother responded by saying: ‘Well, that was a long time ago, that was in the past.’ And then she’d change the subject. ‘I don’t think she really believed me,’ he says. ‘She was just bringing up other stuff: ‘Are you still going to the rehab?’ She didn’t really want to talk about it.’

“Coleman would sometimes mention that he was thinking of going to the police. ‘I would bring it up just so people would be like: “Man, you can’t be serious. Don’t ever do that.” And I’d be like: “You know, you’re right,” ’ he says. He was hoping somebody would make a convincing argument for moving on. ‘I just wanted somebody to say, “Don’t worry about it,” ’ he says. But after a while, he found that no matter whom he told—or what they said—nothing could quiet his conscience. ‘There wasn’t really an answer I could get. I was looking for something that wasn’t there.'”

Published: Nov 18, 2012
Length: 18 minutes (4,697 words)

31 Shocks Later

[Not single-page] A young man with developmental problems develops post-traumatic-stress disorder after receiving 31 shocks at the Judge Rotenberg Center, shedding light on the school’s controversial behavior-modification program:

“At first there were no electric shocks. Israel and his workers relied instead on other ‘aversive treatments’: pinching the soles of their feet, squirting them in the face with water, forcing them to sniff ammonia. One student’s punishment for biting: ten spanks on the buttocks, a cool shower, ten ‘rolling pinches’ on the arm, and a time-out wearing a ‘white-noise helmet.’ New York State sent its first student to Israel in 1976.

“A few years later, New York State officials did an inspection. ‘Superficially … the program is very impressive,’ they wrote in a subsequent report. ‘Children, who are obviously handicapped, are engaged in activities and are seldom exhibiting inappropriate behaviors.’ But, they concluded, ‘the children are controlled by the threat of punishment. When that threat is removed, they revert to their original behaviors.’ Ultimately, the officials found the program’s effect on its students to be ‘the singular most depressing experience that team members have had in numerous visitations to human-service programs.'”

Published: Sep 2, 2012
Length: 19 minutes (4,860 words)