The Connecticut Mirror

The Intersection of mental health and criminal justice

Location: Hartford, Conn.

The News Organization: The Connecticut Mirror is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet with a very clear mission: Produce deep reporting on government policies and politics, to become an invaluable resource for anyone who lives, works or cares about Connecticut, and to hold our policymakers accountable for their decisions and actions. The Mirror’s staff consists of award-winning editors and reporters with decades of experience in Connecticut newsrooms or working for other national or state news operations.

The Position: Connecticut was recently rocked by a scandal in which 37 staff members were accused of systematically abusing a patient at Whiting Forensic Hospital, the state’s behavioral health facility that specializes in providing inpatient services to individuals involved in the criminal justice system. This scandal has raised countless questions about the intersection of mental health and criminal justice in Connecticut. The Connecticut Mirror is one of the only news organizations in the state with the mission, inclination and capacity to comprehensively explore this issue.

The Report for America corps member will be paired with our data editor, supported by our health care and justice reporters, to explore the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. First, the reporter will frame the issue through data acquisition and analysis (scope, incidence, key characteristics, police policies). Second, the reporter will identify key questions to investigate in four areas: interfacing with police, judicial system, incarceration and re-entry. The reporter will take the lead in exploring these questions. In the final three, months the reporter will do deeper dives into one or two of these questions, based on findings. The reporter’s body of work will answer questions related to justice system practices, processes, structure and impact on people. This work will start and inform conversations about potential systems changes among policy-makers, advocates, people living at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice and Connecticut residents at large.

Preferred Skills: Experience in criminal justice reporting, interest in reporting on and from inside underserved communities and strong narrative writing skills