FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship


Directed by Débora Souza Silva.

FRONTLINE, WFAE & Firelight Media investigate the long waits for mental health care that defendants who are deemed too sick to stand trial face in North Carolina.

From FRONTLINE (PBS)’s Local Journalism Initiative, the Charlotte, North Carolina, NPR station WFAE and Firelight Media, “Fractured” examines how the country’s mental health crisis is playing out within the criminal justice system in North Carolina, a state where it’s been harder to access mental health care than in most others.

"We've found that these defendants may wait months in jail, sometimes more than a year, for the treatment they need to be deemed well enough to go to court," says “Fractured” correspondent, writer and producer Dana Miller Ervin. “In some cases, these defendants can get sicker while they wait for admission to a state hospital.”

Ervin has been investigating access to mental health care in North Carolina for WFAE for the past two years with the support of FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative. The initiative is an innovative effort to support and strengthen investigative reporting in communities around the country. It launched in 2019 with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Building on an in-depth radio and digital series, which was released in 2023 by WFAE and FRONTLINE and was recently named a semi-finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, “Fractured” is directed by Débora Souza Silva, a 2023 recipient of the FRONTLINE/Firelight Media Investigative Journalism Fellowship. The fellowship was created to support independent filmmakers of color interested in journalistic documentary filmmaking about underreported issues in the United States.

“Fractured” is a FRONTLINE production with Dandara Productions LLC in association with Firelight Media and WFAE. The director is Débora Souza Silva. The writers are Débora Souza Silva & Dana Miller Ervin. The producers are Loi Ameera Almeron, Débora Souza Silva and Dana Miller Ervin. The correspondent is Dana Miller Ervin. The co-producer and editor is Nelson Ryland. The senior producers are Nina Chaudry, Carla Borrás and Monika Navarro. The senior editors are Erin Texeira and Amy Rubin. The executive producers of Firelight Media are Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

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