COLLEGE PARK (1/3/20)— The University of Maryland Capital News Service and Associated Press on Dec. 21 published the latest in a series of stories investigating why mentally ill people are killing themselves in jails across the United States.
The project, the result of a partnership between the AP, Philip Merrill College of Journalism master’s students and more than 50 undergraduate students, has been picked up by news organizations across the country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. The latest part, written by Merrill College students Riin Aljas and Ryan Little, was picked up by many of the same publications.
The project was led by Associate Professor Deborah Nelson. Nelson also taught the media law course and data gathering and analysis course in which students helped build a database of court cases that were critical to reporting on jail suicides across the country. Howard Center for Investigative Journalism data editor Sean Mussenden assisted.
The latest entry analyzed how the nation’s most important jail suicide reform, in Texas, hasn’t been able to decrease suicide numbers because staffing wasn’t addressed.
Capital News Service is Merrill College’s nonprofit, student-staffed news organization led by faculty members with distinguished journalism experience. CNS has bureaus and news teams in Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park and Washington whose efforts are coordinated by Managing Director Marty Kaiser.
The Howard Center, funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation in honor of Roy W. Howard, is led by Director Kathy Best. It seeks to tell stories of national and international importance while training the next generation of watchdog reporters.