BC-US--Women Behind Bars,ADVISORY, US
A view from the glass-enclosed guard tower that peers into the women’s unit at the Campbell County Jail: Metal beds flank the walls. Giant bars seal the windows. In dormitory-like cells, women watch TV, play endless games of cards or pace in silent frustration.
Once, it was rare to have more than 10 women in the jail. Now the population is routinely around 60, and the opioid crisis is largely to blame.
This jail in a remote corner of Appalachia offers an agonizing glimpse into how the tidal wave of opioids and methamphetamines has ravaged America. Across the country, addiction is driving skyrocketing rates of incarcerated women — the fastest-growing correctional population in the U.S. — squeezing communities that lack money, treatment programs and permanent solutions to close a revolving door.
The AP spent weeks reporting behind bars at the jail in Campbell County and documenting the stories of the women inside. Each has a tale of bad choices, dreams of a “normal” life and nagging doubts about how long they can resist drugs once they are free.
A multi-format package of text, photos, video and a graphic will be available for publication beginning at 12:01 a.m. eastern on May 21. The text and main photos will move in advance this week as HFRs for planning purposes. Questions may be directed to U.S. Enterprise Editor Pauline Arrillaga at firstname.lastname@example.org
WOMEN BEHIND BARS
JACKSBORO, Tenn. — On opposite sides of the county jail, a mother and her son are planning their future together. They’re not allowed face-to-face visits, so the inmate and the fifth-grader chat on video. “Hi, Mommy,” little Robby says, standing before an image of his mother, Krystle Sweat, sitting nearby in her cell. Over the years, Sweat has been arrested about two dozen times for robbery and other crimes — almost all related to her drug addiction that culminated in a $300-a-day pain pill habit. Most women in the Campbell County Jail have followed a similar path: They’re arrested on a drug-related charge and confined to a cell 23 hours a day. They receive no counseling. Then they’re released into the same community where friends — and in some cases, family — are using drugs. Soon they are again, too. This jail offers an agonizing glimpse into how the tidal wave of opioids and methamphetamines has ravaged America. Here and elsewhere, addiction is driving skyrocketing rates of incarcerated women, tearing apart families while squeezing communities that lack money, treatment programs and permanent solutions to close the revolving door. By National Writer Sharon Cohen. 2,723 words, with an abridged version of 978 words.
— Photos and video stories by David Goldman, including: BC-US--Women Behind Bars-Photo Essay, a black-and-white film portrait series of some of the women inside the Campbell County Jail.
— AP Graphic.