Reveal’s investigations will inspire, infuriate and inform you. Host Al Letson and an award-winning team of reporters deliver gripping stories about caregivers, advocates for the unhoused, immigrant families, warehouse workers and formerly incarcerated people, fighting to hold the powerful accountable. The New Yorker described Reveal as “a knockout … a pleasure to listen to, even as we seethe.” A winner of multiple Peabody, duPont, Emmy and Murrow awards, Reveal is produced by the nation’s first investigative journalism nonprofit, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. From unearthing exploitative working conditions to exposing the nation’s racial disparities, there’s always more to the story. Learn more at


United States




Reveal’s investigations will inspire, infuriate and inform you. Host Al Letson and an award-winning team of reporters deliver gripping stories about caregivers, advocates for the unhoused, immigrant families, warehouse workers and formerly incarcerated people, fighting to hold the powerful accountable. The New Yorker described Reveal as “a knockout … a pleasure to listen to, even as we seethe.” A winner of multiple Peabody, duPont, Emmy and Murrow awards, Reveal is produced by the nation’s first investigative journalism nonprofit, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. From unearthing exploitative working conditions to exposing the nation’s racial disparities, there’s always more to the story. Learn more at




Mississippi Goddam Chapter 7: Reasonable Doubt

The final episode of Mississippi Goddam shares new revelations that cast doubt on the official story that Billey Joe Johnson Jr. accidentally killed himself. Our reporting brought up questions that the original investigation never looked into. Host Al Letson and reporter Jonathan Jones go back to Mississippi to interview the key people in the investigation, including Johnson’s ex-girlfriend – the first recorded interview she’s ever done with a media outlet. The team also shares its findings with lead investigator Joel Wallace and the medical examiner who looked into the case. Finally, after three years of reporting, we share what we’ve learned with Johnson’s family and talk to them about the inadequacy of the investigation and reasons to reopen the case. This episode was originally broadcast in December 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 6: Mississippi Justice

Black communities around Mississippi have long raised concerns about suspicious deaths of young Black men, especially when law enforcement is involved. Curley Clark, vice president of the Mississippi NAACP at the time of Reveal’s reporting, called Billey Joe Johnson Jr.’s case an example of “Mississippi justice.” “It means that they still feel like the South should have won the Civil War,” Clark said. “And also the laws for the state of Mississippi are slanted in that direction.” Before Johnson died during a traffic stop with a White sheriff’s deputy, friends say police had pulled him over dozens of times. And some members of the community raised concerns that police had been racially profiling Black people. Reveal investigates Johnson’s interactions with law enforcement and one officer in particular. This episode was originally broadcast in November 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 5: Star Crossed

Billey Joe Johnson Jr. and Hannah Hollinghead met in their freshman year of high school. Hollinghead says Johnson was her first love, and in many ways, it was a typical teen romance. Friends say they would argue, break up, then get back together again. Some people were far from accepting of their interracial relationship. On Dec. 8, 2008, they were both dating other people. According to Hollinghead and her mother, Johnson made an unexpected stop at her house, moments before he died of a gunshot wound during a traffic stop on the edge of town. But it appears that investigators failed to corroborate statements or interview Johnson’s friends and family to get a better idea of what was going on in his life on the day he died. Reveal exposes deep flaws in the investigation and interviews the people closest to Johnson, who were never questioned during the initial investigation. This episode was originally broadcast in November 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 4: The Investigator

Special Agent Joel Wallace of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the death of Billey Joe Johnson Jr. He worked alongside two investigators from the George County district attorney’s office. Wallace said that arrangement didn’t happen very often. And he now questions why they were assigned. “If you've got me investigating the case, then I’m an independent investigator,” he said. “But why would I need the district attorney investigator to oversee me investigating a case?” The Johnson family was initially relieved because Wallace had experience investigating suspicious deaths. As a Black detective, he had dealt with racist backlash to his work. Reveal host Al Letson and reporter Jonathan Jones visit Wallace, now retired, to talk about what happened with the investigation. When Wallace finds out what Reveal has uncovered, he begins to wonder whether the case should be reopened. This episode was originally broadcast in November 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 3: The Autopsy

After Billey Joe Johnson Jr. died in 2008, the state of Mississippi outsourced his autopsy. Al Letson and Jonathan Jones travel to Nashville, Tennessee, to interview the doctor who conducted it. Her findings helped lead a grand jury to determine Johnson’s death was an accidental shooting. However, Letson and Jones share another report that raises doubts about her original conclusions. This episode was originally broadcast in October 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 2: The Aftermath

On the morning of Billey Joe Johnson’s death, crime scene tape separates the Johnsons from their son’s body. Their shaky faith in the criminal justice system begins to buckle. As Johnson’s family tries to get answers about his death, they get increasingly frustrated with the investigation. They feel that law enforcement officials, from the lead investigator to the district attorney, are keeping them out of the loop. While a majority-White grand jury rules that Johnson’s death was accidental, members of the family believe the possibility of foul play was never properly investigated. This episode was originally broadcast in October 2021.


Mississippi Goddam Chapter 1: The Promise

Billey Joe Johnson Jr. was a high school football star headed for the big time. Then, early one morning in 2008, the Black teenager died during a traffic stop with a White deputy. His family’s been searching for answers ever since. More than a decade ago, Reveal host Al Letson traveled to Lucedale, Mississippi, to report on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While there, locals told him there was another story he should be looking into: Johnson’s suspicious death. During that traffic stop, police say Johnson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But for Johnson’s family, that explanation never made sense. In the first episode of this seven-part series, Letson returns to Mississippi with reporter Jonathan Jones to explore what happened to Johnson – and what justice means in a place haunted by its history. This episode was originally broadcast in October 2021.


The Great Arizona Water Grab

A Saudi-owned farm in the middle of the Arizona desert has attracted national attention and criticism since Reveal’s Nate Halverson and Ike Sriskandarajah first broke this story eight years ago. The farm is using massive amounts of water to grow hay and export it to Saudi Arabia in the midst of a water crisis in the American West. Since then, megafarms have taken hold here. And the trend isn’t fueled just by foreign companies. Many people have no idea that their retirement funds are backing massive land deals that result in draining precious groundwater. Halverson uncovers that pension fund managers in Arizona knew they were investing in a local land deal, which resulted in draining down the aquifer of nearby communities. So even as local and state politicians have fought to stop these deals, their retirement fund has been fueling them. And it’s not just happening in Arizona. Halverson takes us to Southern California, where retirement money also was invested in a megafarm deal. This time, the farm was tapping into the Colorado River to grow hay and ship it overseas. And it was happening as the federal and state governments have been trying to conserve river water. Halverson’s investigation into water use in the West is just one slice of his reporting into a global scramble for food and water, which is featured in an upcoming documentary, “The Grab” by director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. “The Grab” will be coming soon to a theater or screen near you. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


It's Not Easy Going Green

When they were invented in the ’90s, renewable energy certificates were meant to stimulate the green energy market. Back then, building wind and solar farms was way more expensive than it is today. The idea was that renewable energy producers could sell certificates that represented the “greenness” of the energy they made. Anyone buying those certificates, or RECs, could claim that green power and also claim they were helping the environment. For years, corporations have bought RECs as a low-commitment way to claim they’re “going green” – all while using the same old fossil fuel-powered electricity. So how exactly do RECs help the climate crisis? This week, Reveal investigates RECs and finds that the federal government uses them to pad its environmental stats. Reveal’s Will Evans starts with Auden Schendler, the man in charge of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co. Schendler initially convinced his company to buy RECs to go green, then realized he made a mistake. But even after he spoke out and evidence piled up showing that RECs were ineffective, other companies kept buying them – and the federal government did, too. Evans and Reveal’s Melissa Lewis determined that since 2010, more than half of what the government has claimed as renewable energy was just cheap RECs. Next, Reveal’s Najib Aminy takes us to Palm Beach County, Florida, to find out where some RECs are made: in a trash incinerator. Amid all the sounds and smells of burning garbage, Aminy looks into whether buying RECs actually helps the environment and where the money goes. He meets Andrew Byrd, who lives nearby and worries about the fumes. It turns out that federal agencies bought RECs from this incinerator in order to meet renewable energy mandates. Finally, we explore another place where the government buys RECs: two biomass plants in Georgia, where residents complained of toxic pollution. Evans looks into where the government’s modest environmental goals come from and why federal agencies buy RECs in the first place. He also talks to a REC industry veteran and examines how a plan from the Biden administration could change things. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram


Guatemala’s War on Journalists

Reveal revisits a story produced in collaboration with a Guatemalan journalist who is now in prison. José Rubén Zamora was jailed last summer after his newspaper, elPeriódico, published more than 100 stories about corruption within Guatemala’s government. Corruption is a longstanding problem in Guatemala, and it’s intertwined with U.S. policy in Central America. At times, the U.S. has had a corrupting influence on Guatemalan politics; at others, it has supported transparency. This week’s show looks at the root causes of corruption and impunity in Guatemala and how they have prompted generations of Guatemalans to flee their country and migrate north. Veteran radio journalist Maria Martin takes us to Huehuetenango, a province near Guatemala’s border with Mexico. For decades, residents have been migrating to the U.S. to help support families struggling with poverty. We then connect the migration outflow to U.S. policy during the Cold War and its support of brutal dictatorships in Guatemala that were plagued by corruption. Then Reveal’s Anayansi Diaz-Cortes introduces us to a crusading prosecutor named Iván Velásquez. In the early 2000s, Velásquez was tasked with running an international anti-corruption commission in Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG. Its mandate was to root out corruption and improve the lives of Guatemalans so they wouldn’t feel compelled to leave their homes. Velásquez had a reputation for jailing presidents and paramilitaries, but met his match when he went after Jimmy Morales, a television comedian who was elected president in 2015. Morales found an ally in then-U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration helped Morales dismantle CICIG. With CICIG gone, journalists were left to expose government corruption – journalists like Zamora, who was arrested last summer on trumped-up charges. Diaz-Cortes speaks with Zamora’s son about his father’s arrest and the state of journalism in Guatemala. This is an update of an episode that originally aired in September 2020. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Pentagon Papers: Secrets, Lies and Leaks

Before Jeffrey Wigand blew the whistle on the tobacco industry and Edward Snowden showed the National Security Agency could spy on all of us, there was Daniel Ellsberg, one of the original champions of free speech. He died last month at 92, and this week’s episode revisits a historic event along with our CEO and editor in chief, Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal. In 1971, then-22-year-old Rosenthal got a call from his boss at The New York Times. He was told to go to Room 1111 of the Hilton Hotel, bring enough clothes for at least a month and not tell anyone. Rosenthal was part of a team called in to publish the Pentagon Papers, an explosive history of the United States’ political and military actions in Vietnam that shattered the government’s narratives about the war. Ellsberg, a former military analyst, leaked the secret papers to the press. We hear the experiences of both Ellsberg and Rosenthal. When Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, he was turning his back on a long career close to power, immersed in government secrets. His work as a nuclear war strategist made him fear that a small conflict could erupt into a nuclear holocaust. When the Vietnam War flared, Ellsberg worried his worst fears would be realized. He wonders if leaking the top-secret report he’s read could help stop the war. Soon, he was secretly copying the 7,000-page history that would come to be known as the Pentagon Papers and showing them to anyone he thought could help. President Richard Nixon wakes up to the biggest leak in American history. But his first reaction is a little surprising: The Pentagon Papers might make trouble for the Democrats – this instinct starts a chain reaction that helps bring down his presidency. This episode originally aired in May 2016.


They Followed Doctors’ Orders. The State Took Their Babies.

Medications like Suboxone help pregnant women safely treat addiction. But in many states, taking them can trigger investigations by child welfare agencies that separate mothers from their newborns. This week, we tell the story of one young mother who thought she was doing the right thing by taking her prescription, only to be reported to the state of Arizona and investigated for child abuse and neglect. Reveal’s Shoshana Walter starts off by introducing us to Jade Dass, who was taking Suboxone to treat her addiction to opioids before she became pregnant. Scientific studies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that taking addiction treatment medications, such as Suboxone and methadone, during pregnancy leads to the best outcomes for both mothers and babies. But after Dass delivered a healthy daughter, the hospital reported her to the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Next, Walter explores why women like Dass are being investigated for using addiction-treatment medications during pregnancy. In response to the crack and opioid epidemics, state and federal legislators enacted laws that inadvertently created a dragnet for women like Dass who are following a doctor’s orders to treat addiction. To understand the scope of the dragnet, Walter, data reporter Melissa Lewis and a team of Reveal researchers and lawyers filed 100 public records requests, putting together the first-ever tally of how often women are reported to child welfare agencies for taking prescription drugs during pregnancy. We close the hour by rejoining Dass as she grapples with a judge’s decision to put her baby in foster care. Dass and her boyfriend make a desperate move to try and keep their family together. For more about Jade Dass and other mothers facing investigation for taking medication assisted treatment, read Shoshana Walter’s investigation in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Culture War Goes to College

From book bans to uproar over critical race theory, American classrooms have been on the front lines of the culture war. And there’s one state that’s leading the charge. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has championed several laws affecting education, from prohibitions on classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity to blocks on funding for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at state colleges. He’s also targeted one the state’s most liberal and academically rigorous institutions: New College of Florida. In January, DeSantis’ chief of staff told National Review, “It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South.” The comment sparked widespread controversy because Hillsdale College is a private Christian school in Michigan, and New College is the state’s public honors college. That same month, DeSantis appointed multiple new trustees to the board, who began seizing control of New College almost immediately. In their first meeting, trustees ousted the college’s president and legal counsel and selected a new board chair, a DeSantis appointee. And they set in motion a plan to terminate the school’s diversity officer. Since then, a pitched battle has been playing out, with DeSantis and his appointees on one side and students and faculty on the other. In this episode of Reveal, we partner with freelance reporter and filmmaker Sam Greenspan, who is a graduate of New College, to examine the changes taking place there. Greenspan follows journalists at the Catalyst, the student newspaper, as they cover the rapid-fire changes that are throwing the future of the college into uncertainty. To close the show, host Al Letson interviews Democratic Florida Rep. Angie Nixon about her opposition to many of the governor’s recent policies and the effects she thinks they’ll have on students and educators in the state. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Welfare-to-Work Industrial Complex

“Get a job!” That sums up our current cash welfare system in a nutshell. Ever since so-called welfare reform in the 1990s, the system has been based on the idea that welfare recipients must be doing some kind of work or job-readiness activity to receive government assistance. It’s a system that plays on what Americans have long wanted to believe – that all it takes to move out of poverty is a can-do attitude and hard work. Now, there is a growing chorus of politicians who argue that even more programs that help people in need should have more and tougher work requirements attached. Recently, Republicans successfully fought to create new work requirements for food assistance under the debt ceiling deal. In this episode, Reveal partners with The Uncertain Hour podcast from Marketplace to explore the lucrative industry built on welfare-to-work policies. Critics say these for-profit welfare companies have cultivated their own cycle of dependency on the federal government. Krissy Clark from The Uncertain Hour takes listeners into America’s welfare-to-work system. We meet a struggling mother of two in Milwaukee who hits hard times and turns to a local welfare office for help – a welfare office outsourced to a private for-profit company. Inside, staff preach the power of work, place people into unpaid “work experience” and enforce work requirements for welfare recipients, all in the name of teaching self-sufficiency. But who’s set to benefit most, that struggling mother or the for-profit company she turned to? Then, Clark has a frank conversation with the founder of America Works, one of the first for-profit welfare-to-work companies in the country.


The Post-Roe Health Care Crisis

It’s been nearly one year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that protected abortion rights for half a century. Many states have passed laws severely restricting or banning abortion. And in states like Texas, pregnant patients are being put in peril. Freelance journalist Sophie Novack reports on the hard decisions Texas doctors and nurses are making in the aftermath of the state’s ban. Providers are facing impossible choices when it comes to caring for pregnant patients with medical complications. Some fear that performing an abortion, even to save the life of a mother, could lead to criminal prosecution. Reveal reporter Laura C. Morel has spent the last year investigating anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. Now that abortions are severely restricted or banned in much of the country, these centers are trying to fill some of the health care gap that’s emerged in conservative areas. In states that continue to allow abortions, crisis pregnancy centers have doubled down on their mission to discourage patients from terminating their pregnancies – often using deceptive practices to lure them into their facilities. Morel talks to a Florida woman who describes her experience at a Jacksonville crisis pregnancy center, where a volunteer deceived her into thinking it was an abortion clinic. As Morel and episode host Nadia Hamdan discover, deceiving pregnant women is part of these centers’ long history. Finally, we explore how a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision has made it harder to regulate anti-abortion centers – and how the lack of regulation harms clients. Morel tells the story of an anti-abortion nurse in Kentucky who reported infection control problems at the crisis pregnancy center where she volunteered, only to find that the facility is allowed to operate in a regulatory gray zone. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Battle for Clean Energy in Coal Country

Montana has a long history of making money by extracting and exporting its natural resources, namely coal. State politicians and Montana’s largest electricity utility company seem set on keeping it that way. Reveal’s Jonathan Jones travels to the southeastern part of the state, to a town called Colstrip. It is home to one of the largest coal seams in the country – and one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West. He finds the state’s single largest power company, NorthWestern Energy, recently expanded its share in the Colstrip power plant and is planning to build a new methane gas plant on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Meanwhile, in the state capital of Helena, lawmakers have passed a flurry of bills to ensure the state’s continued reliance on fossil fuels. NorthWestern supports many of these bills, including one of the most extreme laws to keep the state from addressing climate change. Jones follows the money behind the coal expansion in Montana and the local and statewide resistance efforts to push the state toward clean energy. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


Weapons With Minds of Their Own

The future of warfare is being shaped by computer algorithms that are assuming ever-greater control over battlefield technology. The war in Ukraine has become a testing ground for some of these weapons, and experts warn that we are on the brink of fully autonomous drones that decide for themselves whom to kill. This week, we revisit a story from reporter Zachary Fryer-Biggs about U.S. efforts to harness gargantuan leaps in artificial intelligence to develop weapons systems for a new kind of warfare. The push to integrate AI into battlefield technology raises a big question: How far should we go in handing control of lethal weapons to machines? In our first story, Fryer-Biggs and Reveal’s Michael Montgomery head to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sophomore cadets are exploring the ethics of autonomous weapons through a lab simulation that uses miniature tanks programmed to destroy their targets. Next, Fryer-Biggs and Montgomery talk to a top general leading the Pentagon’s AI initiative. They also explore the legendary hackers conference known as DEF CON and hear from technologists campaigning for a global ban on autonomous weapons. We close with a conversation between host Al Letson and Fryer-Biggs about the implications of algorithmic warfare and how the U.S. and other leaders in machine learning are resistant to signing treaties that would put limits on machines capable of making battlefield decisions. This episode originally aired in June 2021. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Long Campaign to Turn Birth Control Into the New Abortion

When the Supreme Court’s decision undoing Roe v. Wade came down in June, anti-abortion groups were jubilant – but far from satisfied. Many in the movement have a new target: hormonal birth control. It seems contradictory; doesn’t preventing unwanted pregnancies also prevent abortions? But anti-abortion groups don’t see it that way. They claim that hormonal contraceptives like IUDs and the pill can actually cause abortions. One prominent group making this claim is Students for Life of America, whose president has said she wants contraceptives like IUDs and birth control pills to be illegal. The fast-growing group has built a social media campaign spreading the false idea that hormonal birth control is an abortifacient. Reveal’s Amy Mostafa teams up with UC Berkeley journalism and law students to dig into the world of young anti-abortion influencers and how medical misinformation gains traction on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, with far-reaching consequences. Tens of millions of Americans use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and regulate their health. And many have well-founded complaints about side effects, from nausea to depression – not to mention well-justified anger about how the medical establishment often pooh-poohs those concerns. Anti-abortion and religious activists have jumped into the fray, urging people to reject hormonal birth control as “toxic” and promoting non-hormonal “fertility awareness” methods – a movement they’re trying to rebrand as “green sex.” Mother Jones Senior Editor Kiera Butler explains how secular wellness influencers such as Jolene Brighten, who sells a $300 birth control “hormone reset,” are having their messages adopted by anti-abortion influencers, many of them with deep ties to Catholic institutions. The end of Roe triggered a Missouri law that immediately banned almost all abortions. Many were shocked when a major health care provider in the state announced it would also no longer offer emergency contraception pills – Plan B – because of a false belief that it could cause an abortion. While the health system soon reversed its policy, it wasn’t the first time Missouri policymakers have been roiled by the myth that emergency contraception can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and cause an abortion. Reveal senior reporter and producer Katharine Mieszkowski tracks how lawmakers in the state have been confronting this misinformation campaign and looks to the future of how conservatives are aiming to use birth control as their new wedge issue. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


The Border Patrol’s Fearless 5%

The Border Patrol is one of the largest federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., with roughly 19,000 officers. It also has one of the largest gender disparities – for decades, the number of women on the force has held steady around 5%. Despite years of demands for reform, the Border Patrol hasn’t managed to substantially increase the number of women in the agency. Reporter Erin Siegal McIntyre set out to examine why this number has remained so low. She spoke with more than two dozen current and former Border Patrol agents and reviewed hundreds of pages of complaints and lawsuits in which agents allege sexual harassment or assault. Those interviews and documents reveal a workplace where a wide range of sexual misconduct is pervasive: from stale sex jokes to retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct and assault and rape. Siegal McIntyre starts with the first class of women who were allowed to become Border Patrol agents in 1975. We hear from Ernestine Lopez, a member of that class. Days before graduation, she is raped by a classmate and reports it. She’s abruptly fired, leading her on a 12-year legal battle against the government. This is the first time Lopez, now 85, has told her story publicly. Next, we hear from a young woman who loved working as an agent but left the Border Patrol at the peak of her career. Her supervisor had targeted her and other women on her team by hiding a camera in the floor drain in the women’s restroom. This is the first time she has spoken to a news outlet about her experience of reporting her supervisor and pursuing a case in court against him and the Border Patrol. Then we follow the story of Kevin Warner, a Border Patrol probationary agent who was abruptly fired months after participating in a sex game along with a dozen other agents, including his superiors. Warner alleges that he was wrongfully discharged. Then Siegal McIntyre takes her reporting to a former chief of the Border Patrol, Mark Morgan. She asks about workplace culture, the low number of women in the agency and the lack of transparency around investigations of sexual misconduct in the patrol. Support for Erin Siegal McIntyre’s work was provided by the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and The Harnisch Foundation. Special thanks to Ruth Ann Harnisch, Deborah Golden and the Gumshoe Group for their legal support and to John Turner and Gary Kirk from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


No Retreat: The Dangers of Stand Your Ground

The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter of the struggle for civil rights in America. A mostly White jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the teen’s murder, in part because Florida’s stand your ground law permits a person to use deadly force in self-defense – even if that person could have safely retreated. Nationwide protests after the trial called for stand your ground laws to be repealed and reformed. But instead, stand your ground laws have expanded to 38 states. Reveal reporter Jonathan Jones talks with Byron Castillo, a maintenance worker in North Carolina who was shot in the chest after mistakenly trying to get into the wrong apartment for a repair. While Castillo wound up out of work and deep in debt, police and prosecutors declined to pursue charges against the shooter, who said he was afraid someone was trying to break into his apartment. Researchers have found that states that enacted stand your ground laws have seen an increase in homicides – one study estimated that roughly 700 more people die in the U.S. every year because of stand your ground laws. Opponents of stand your ground laws call them by a different name: “kill at will” laws. Jones speaks to lawmakers like Stephanie Howse, who fought against stand your ground legislation as an Ohio state representative, saying such laws put Black people's lives at risk. Howse and other Democratic lawmakers faced off against Republican politicians, backed by pro-gun lobbyists, intent on passing a stand your ground bill despite widespread opposition from civil rights groups and law enforcement. Modern-day stand your ground laws started in Florida. Reveal reporter Nadia Hamdan explores a 2011 road rage incident that wound up leading to an expansion of the law. She looks at how one case led Florida lawmakers, backed by the National Rifle Association, to enact a law that spells out that prosecutors, not defendants, have the burden of proof when claiming someone was not acting in self-defense when committing an act of violence against another individual. This episode originally aired in July 2022. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram