Civil Rights, Justice

Too poor to make bail

Nearly half a million people are in jail across the country who have not been convicted of a crime, but who remain there solely because they lack the money to make bail. They’re presumed innocent, but while in jail they stand to lose their jobs, their homes, even custody of their kids.

Read more at as part of Reckon’s “Broken Justice” series.

Child welfare

A boy’s death + the law that left his daycare unlicensed

On Monday morning, Jasmyn Johnson dropped off her 5-year-old son Kamden at the Community Nursery & Preschool Academy in west Mobile, according to the day care director. He’d been enrolled at the church-run day care for about two weeks.

Later that morning he boarded the day care van driven by Valarie Rena Patterson, 46, for a ride to another day care location run by Community Ministries Inc.

By 3 p.m. Kamden was dead, his body discovered by passersby, laying near the driveway of a home less than 3 miles from his day care.


I’ve been following the issues surrounding Alabama’s lack of regulation of religious day cares for the past few years. This is the most recent twist in that coverage.




Politics, Uncategorized

Last Confederate flag manufacturer sees sales surge after Charlottesville


2017 Story of the Year

Isolation rooms are seen at Solid Rock Ministries on Spring Hill Ave. and Ann Street are pictured in Mobile, Ala. (Sharon Steinmann/

This story recently won 2017 Story of the Year from the Alabama Press Association, as well as Best News Feature.

Lucas Greenfield was prepared to scale the razor-wire topped fence surrounding Restoration Youth Academy if it meant his freedom.
While an instructor was busy, Greenfield seized his chance. He was nearly out the door when another student ratted him out. His punishment for the attempted escape was “isolation,” an empty 8×8 room lit by a lone bulb that burned overhead day and night.


The blog post shortly after it ran.


Child welfare, Health

Black babies die at 3x the rate of white babies in Alabama

An overall improvement in infant mortality rates in Alabama may appear as welcome news, but there are troubling findings within recent state health reports. The gap between infant mortality rates for black and white babies in Alabama is huge – and it’s growing. Black babies in Alabama died at three times the rate of white babies in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

Read more

Health, Maternal health, Uncategorized

Facing lack of birth choices, an Alabama nurse heads for the border

Jessica Thompson didn’t take her eyes off the glowing dashboard clock as her husband sped their minivan through the night, heading north on a deserted country highway somewhere in Lauderdale County. The contractions were two minutes apart now, on the dot.

She tried to focus on breathing. It was just after 4 a.m. on a mild April morning.


Child welfare

86 kids hospitalized for food poisoning at day care, Alabama could change church loophole

When Angela Foster arrived at the Sunnyside Child Care Center to pick up her kids on June 23, 2015, she found the front door locked and the window shades drawn. That wasn’t normal.

A line of parents snaked down the narrow sidewalk in front of the day care, waiting to pick up their children.

Something’s not right, she thought.

Foster had arrived about 3 p.m. to pick up her son, daughter and two grandsons from a summer program run by the day care, which operated in a tiny strip mall in West Montgomery, a few miles from her house.

It was hot outside – 92 degrees by the time she arrived, though the heat index was nearly 100. Some of the parents decided to go around back to see if they could get in that way. Foster followed.

A child, about 11 or 12, was at the back door, letting parents in. Nobody asked for Foster’s ID. She could hear children crying inside.

When she walked in, the stench was overpowering. As her eyes adjusted to the dim interior, she saw chaos.