I’m enormously surprised and gratified by the impact of my story last month on sex offense reports at the University of Missouri. From the article’s syndication in the Associated Press, to the MU police department’s change in how it publicly address sex offenses, to my stint as a panelist on NPR, this story has garnered far more attention than any of my other investigations, and I’m still preening.
Hundreds of readers shared it on social media, making it the Missourian’s most-read story that month. I think that shows how much this issue – the lack of reports, and, subsequently, prosecutions, of sex offenses – touches a nerve and affects so many people. The most touching feedback came from a victim and a university official, who both told me how how my reporting elucidated problems they had personally experienced.
Besides the subject matter, this article was difficult due to the astonishing amount of pushback my editor and I received from university officials. I’m happy to say that after its publication, we’ve had no corrections or blowback from those officials. Thank you to everyone who read, commented, edited, supported, shared or critiqued!
I’ve been following the triumphs and troubles of the Missouri State Penitentiary since I did an extensive investigation on it a year ago. At first I was cheered to see the tourism board implementing a few of the funding solutions I had come across in my reporting. (Not that I believe that had anything to do with my reporting, obviously, I just think it shows that I managed to hit upon some truths.) Now, unfortunately, it looks like MSP is shutting down due to mold problems. The deterioration continues apace. I’m re-linking to my radio series here, which was broadcast on KBIA in May of 2012, and is sadly still relevant today:
“Neglect” a threat for Missouri State Penitentiary
Water damage threatens the stability of Housing Unit 3, which once housed Martin Luther King killer James Earl Ray. MSP officials worry roof leaks will eventually cause the historical buildings to crumble.
Tom Hahn poses for his mom’s camera in the prison’s 74-year-old gas chamber. He’s part of one of the year’s first tours at MSP. The Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes the upswing in tours will eventually turn into profit for MSP.
Jayma Sutton, left, and her husband Jeff Sutton sit down to a meal at Prison Brews after their tour. They traveled from Lake of the Ozarks to see the prison, and visited other tourist spots while in the city.
Inmates in Housing Unit 4 were sometimes allowed to paint the walls in their cells. Peeling paint and plaster now endangers the residents’ creations.
The oldest state prison west of the Mississippi sits dilapidated and crumbling in Jefferson City, Missouri. Despite its value as a tourist destination and historic landmark, the Missouri State Penitentiary might deteriorate to the point of shutting down permanently. Listen to the story on KBIA.org»
Hear a former inmate’s story
One man’s historic building is another’s nightmarish living conditions. Former MSP inmate Joshua Kezer talks about what it was like to be incarcerated for 10 years in one of the oldest prisons in the U.S. Listen to the story on KBIA.org»