WBHM to launch podcast featuring in-depth reporting on Alabama’s prisons.

 1570486246 
1652695260

WBHM 90.3 FM is launching a podcast, “Deliberate Indifference: the story of Alabama’s prison crisis and the people inside it,” the product of reporter Mary Scott Hodgin’s in-depth research on Alabama’s prisons.

The first episode will be available Wednesday, May 18. Listen at DeliberateIndifference.org or wherever podcasts are available.

The limited-run series tells the story of Alabama’s prisons and how they became some of the most dangerous correctional facilities in the country, culminating in a battle with federal officials. In seven episodes, Hodgin delves into the roots of overcrowding, understaffing and violence through the stories of the people locked up in Alabama’s prisons, their families and the people in charge.  

Creating this series involved hundreds of interviews, reading through thousands of pages of documents, and months of writing, editing and fact checking. 

Hodgin, who also covers health and science at WBHM, started researching Alabama’s prison system while reporting on mental health care for incarcerated people. She continued to follow the story after United States justice officials detailed rampant violence and sexual assault inside state correctional facilities. 

“These federal reports and rulings offered a detailed window inside this system that is very closed-off to the public,” Hodgin said. “I wanted to understand how conditions could get so bad, especially within a system funded on behalf of public safety.”

Hodgin’s reporting uncovered a crisis that was decades in the making. 

“Alabama is really at a tipping point,” Hodgin said. “As the state prepares to spend $1.3 billion on new prisons, I hope the series sparks conversation about the desired outcome of that investment, the complexities of criminal justice policy and the overall purpose of prison.”

In addition to the podcast, listeners will be able to view key documents, see pictures from inside Alabama prisons and find other materials.

Because this story unfolded over so many years, it can be hard to keep up with it beyond headlines and understand the fuller picture, says Andrew Yeager, managing editor at WBHM.

“Mary Scott has done an incredible amount of work to distill all that down and infuse it with the voices of those who are incarcerated, corrections officers, families involved in the criminal justice system and others who we don’t often hear from,” Yeager said. New episodes will be available each Wednesday through June 29.

 

Despite pushback, the organizers of Cullman’s first PRIDE event are pushing forward

The announcement of Saturday’s event drew threats and calls for counter-protests. In response, LGBTQ+ communities across the state have offered their support.

6 ways the conversation around a guaranteed income in the US has changed

A guaranteed income conference held in Atlanta shows how the movement has progressed since 2017, with more than 50 pilots currently handing out cash.

New mental health crisis center aims to interrupt revolving door of jail and ER visits

The new clinic in Jefferson County will offer short-term crisis care to people who might otherwise wait hours at a hospital or wind up in jail.

Mississippi’s latest move in its anti-abortion agenda? A tax break for corporate donations

Tax documents show energy company foundations financed the anti-abortion movement in the Gulf South for years. Now, they could get a tax break for that support.

Birmingham City Council moves toward approval of cannabis dispensaries

Birmingham has taken “the first step” on the road to legalizing medical marijuana. The City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate within Birmingham city limits.

The landmark Voting Rights Act faces further dismantling in case from Alabama

The law is once again on the chopping block ­— this time on the question of how state legislatures may draw congressional district lines when the state's voters are racially polarized.

More Front Page Coverage