Ashley Cleek

Ashley Cleek is a freelance multimedia journalist.

Are Cigarette Taxes A Good Idea For Alabama?

The Alabama Legislature is running out of days this session. Today’s the last day that any new revenue raising measure can be introduced and still stand a chance of passing during regular session. And there’s still disagreement on how to fill the state’s more than $250 million deficit. One idea: cigarette taxes. Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed revenue package relies heavily on an 82 cent tax increase per pack.

Anthony Ray Hinton Released After Almost 30 Years On Death Row

After almost 30 years on death row, Anthony Ray Hinton was released from prison today after the prosecution dropped the charges. Ashley Cleek was at , when Hinton was released. Family and friends sobbed and rushed to hug Anthony Ray Hinton as he walked out of the jail in downtown Birmingham free man. Hinton been imprisoned since he was convicted of murdering two men in 1985. For WBHM, Ashley Cleek was at the jail in downtown Birmingham, when Hinton was released.

Handling Heroin In The Courts

Heroin related deaths more than doubled last year in Jefferson county. All this week, WBHM has explored Alabama’s heroin problem. With a rise in use of the drug, police report more heroin arrests, and judges say their dockets are filling up with cases. According to Birmingham’s drug court, eight out of ten cases are for heroin. We conclude our series with a look at the courts. Ashley Cleek followed one addict into the criminal justice system to see what works and what doesn’t.

Montgomery Catholic Mission Finally Celebrates Its Role in the Selma Marches

This month marks the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery. The march was a turn in the Civil Rights Movement. But it also brought about a change in The City of St Jude. It’s not actually a city, but a Catholic mission that takes up two city blocks in west Montgomery. It was started in the 1930s in an attempt to address the lack of education and healthcare for African Americans in the South. Reporter Ashley Cleek brings us this story of a place before its time.

Lectures Behind Bars

Few people normally go to Donaldson Correctional Facility, a state prison in far western Jefferson County. But twice a month UAB faculty travel to this maximum security prison to lecture to inmates. It’s been happening for almost three decades. Reporter Ashley Cleek sits in on a class.

Same-Sex Couple In Birmingham Denied Marriage License

Greg Mullins and Josh Laning went to the Jefferson County Courthouse to apply for a marriage license today, despite the two-week stay on a Friday decision striking down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban. They have been thinking about getting married for years, but they never believed it would be possible in Alabama.

Auburn University’s Rural Studio Brings 20K Houses To Hale County

For some residents of Alabama’’ Black Belt, good housing can be hard to come by. In Hale County, 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line — meaning an individual lives on less than $11,670 a year. A group from Auburn University wants to help by designing an efficient and inexpensive house that anyone could afford. For WBHM, Ashley Cleek visited Newbern, Alabama to check out the homes.

“Black Lives Matter” Protests at The Summit and Riverchase Galleria

Nearly 100 people gathered on Friday afternoon on the slope of yellowed grass at the entrance to the Summit shopping center in Birmingham. The idea was to block traffic on U.S. Highway 280 on one of the season’s busiest shopping days, to protest police violence and the unequal treatment of black men and women by the police.

Churches Could Be Key To Ending HIV Stigma In Rural Alabama

According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans account for 75 percent of Alabama’s HIV cases, but only about 25 percent of the state’s population. In many neighborhoods, HIV is a disease spoken about in whispers. People are scared to get tested, and scared to be seen going to a clinic. In order to combat stigma and increase awareness, doctors and academics are going to an unlikely place — the church — in an attempt to break down some barriers. Ashley Cleek traveled down to the Black Belt to see how it’s going.

At The Polls in Lowndes Country With Alabama’s New Voter ID Law

As voters head to the polls for today’s primary election, it’s the first time people in Alabama will be required to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. Critics say the new law is a roadblock for the poor and minorities. It’s a particularly hot issue in Alabama’s Black Belt, where African-Americans during the civil rights era were met with violence when trying to vote. Supporters of the law say a photo ID will cut down on voter fraud. But as Ashley Cleek reports, the new law might not stop the type of fraud some say is rampant in the region.