Detroit Free Press

The re-entry of formerly incarcerated citizens

Location: Detroit, Mich.

About the News Organization: The Detroit Free Press primarily covers three counties in southeast Michigan, including robust coverage of the city of Detroit. Founded in 1831, it’s the oldest business in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press has earned 10 Pulitzer Prizes in its history, including one for exposing lies and corruption in the administration of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Its role is to serve as watchdog and community convener.

About the Position: We are seeking a Report for America corps member to cover the issues of formerly incarcerated citizens in Detroit. Michigan’s prison population is coming down from a record high in 2007 due in part to a combination of relatively fewer new prisoners and a slightly higher parole rate. We also know that the recidivism rate has steadily declined in the last 20 years. This is good news, but what happens when you’re out of prison? How do you find work? Many employers won’t hire individuals who were formerly incarcerated. If you can find work, there are still many obstacles to building a good life transportation, substance abuse and job training are just a few. The future of each returning citizen is key to an equitable recovery for the city of Detroit.

This unique reporting role will focus on storytelling, myth/stigma busting, resource-building and community engagement. The audience for this beat includes the formerly incarcerated, their families, people in positions to help and the community at large. This reporter will speak to people in each constituency to define their needs and the best way to reach them, as well as leaders and clients of several existing nonprofits for returning citizens about the problems they face. The Detroit Free Press wants to know their stories. We also want to know how to help. This reporter will think holistically about what the audience needs and how to reach them.

Preferred Skills: Some data reporting experience, multimedia skills and narrative storytelling skills. And, given this unique beat, a combination of empathy, fearlessness and common sense, as well as a deep interest in building trust with sources and audience.