Serial Productions, ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio partner on The Kids Of Rutherford County
The New York Times and Serial Productions today announced “The Kids of Rutherford County,” a new series produced in partnership with ProPublica and WPLN Nashville Public Radio. The four-part narrative podcast builds on a joint investigation by the two news organizations, whose reporting uncovered that a Tennessee county was arresting and illegally jailing children for over a decade. “The Kids of Rutherford County” reveals how this came to be, with particular attention to the adults responsible for it and the two juvenile delinquents-turned-lawyers who try to do something about it. The podcast’s host is Meribah Knight, a Peabody Award-winning reporter for Nashville Public Radio who co-reported the original investigation.
Listeners can subscribe to The Kids of Rutherford County wherever podcasts are available. The first two episodes will premiere on Thursday, October 26; parts three and four will air the following two Thursdays.
In April 2016, 11 Black school children as young as eight years old were arrested in Rutherford County, Tennessee. The reason? They didn’t stop a fight between some other kids.
What happened after those arrests exposed a juvenile justice system that was playing by its own rules. For over a decade, this county had arrested and jailed hundreds, maybe thousands, of children illegally. One lawyer, who had also been locked up as a child, eventually asked the obvious question: How did this happen? The answer led back to a powerful judge, the jailer she appointed, and a county that treated these excessively high arrest numbers as normal and a state that didn’t stop them.
In “The Kids of Rutherford County,” Knight explores how the juvenile court’s rules regarding confidentiality and privacy allowed a secret, illegal world to grow, and to fester. What does it take to shut it down? And will the people in charge face any consequences?
Serial Productions is the maker of the blockbuster podcasts “Serial” and “S-Town,” with more than 743 million total downloads. In July 2020, Serial Productions became part of The New York Times Co. Together they have launched several shows, including “Nice White Parents,” a chart-topping series about the powerful forces shaping public schools; “The Improvement Association,” a captivating true story about election fraud; “The Trojan Horse Affair,” an investigative series about the mystery behind a scandal that rocked Britain; “We Were Three,” an intimate look at how Covid affected one family; “The Coldest Case in Laramie,” a limited series confronting conflicting stories behind a decades-old unsolved homicide case; and, most recently, “The Retrievals,” a textured story about the treatment of women in medical settings.
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The New York Times
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