drug court

Photo by Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media.

At first glance, the people inside Franklin County Municipal Court room 13C have little in common. There’s a man in cutoff jean shorts with tattooed arms. Behind him sits a younger woman with freckles who looks like she came from soccer practice.

The group is bound together by circumstance: All were addicted to opioids and got in trouble with the law.

Side Effects Public Media reporter Jake Harper was recognized by the National Institute for Health Care Management for his reporting on how a drugmaker pushed lawmakers and courts to take steps that would increase the use of one of the company's drugs. This meant alternative medications were restricted. 

At the 24th annual NIHCM Research and Journalism Awards on June 5, Harper received honorable mention for the investigative reporting he did with NPR last year.  You can listen to Harper's stories below. 

Mental Health Courts Are Popular But Effectiveness Is Still Unproven

Dec 28, 2015
Eric E. Johnson via Flickr

Mental health courts are popular in many communities, and it’s easy to understand why. Rather than sending someone who’s mentally ill to an overcrowded jail that is poorly equipped to manage his condition, mental health courts offer treatment and help with housing and other social services. The community saves on the cost of locking someone up and offenders get support to stay healthy and may have their charges expunged. Everybody wins, right?

This story was originally produced by Kaiser Health News

Gaining Coping Skills, Losing A Friend, Helped Jennifer Overcome Heroin

Dec 23, 2015
Jennifer Burke and dog Maggie.
submitted photo

From Prescription To Addiction

Jennifer Burke’s addiction story began with prescriptions for pain medication. She was born with a rare birth defect that multiple tumors throughout her body. The tumors, called hamartomas, weren’t cancerous, but they caused her persistent pain. At age 15, about a year after giving birth to a baby girl, she Jennifer had a tumor the size of a softball removed from one of her legs. For the next eight years, she had surgery after surgery.