Jake Harper

Jake is a reporter with Side Effects and WFYI in Indianapolis. He decided to pursue radio journalism while volunteering at a community station in Madison, WI, and soon after began an internship with NPR's State of the Re:Union. Jake has received a first place award from the Milwaukee Press Club and he was a finalist in KCRW's 24-Hour Radio Race. In his spare time, he runs and tries to perfect his pizza crust recipe. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb often brags about the Indiana Women’s Prison. Last year, Holcomb showed the prison off to Ivanka Trump. He’s mentioned the prison in his state of the state address and posted videos to his Facebook page. 

The Indiana Women’s Prison has taken hard measures to contain the coronavirus. Many inmates in the prison have spent long periods locked in their cells — which have no toilets, running water or air conditioning — with limited opportunities for relief. 

As temperatures rise over the summer months, advocates and those with loved ones inside certain housing units, known as the cottages, worry about the heat and long periods of confinement. They fear it could cause health problems for the inmates, and say that the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

An Indiana Department of Correction policy may increase the spread of coronavirus in prisons by requiring “high risk” and “medium risk” staffers to report to work, Side Effects has learned. 

Scottie Edwards died of COVID-19 just weeks before he would have gotten out of the Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana.

Edwards, 73, began showing symptoms of the disease in early April, according to the accounts of three inmates who lived with him in a dormitory. He was short of breath, had chest pain, and could barely talk. He was also dizzy, sweaty and throwing up.

This post was updated at 1:05 pm on 4/13/20 to include new infections reported by the state. 

On Monday, April 6, an inmate at Indiana’s Plainfield Correctional Facility stayed up late. From his bunk, he composed two messages. In the first, he told his son that he loves him, that he’s proud of him. 

In the second message, he told his wife he was scared. “I can tell you right now, with nearly 100% certainty, that I am going to get this virus,” he wrote. The man’s wife says he suffers from lung disease, which could increase the chances of complications from COVID-19. 

Last week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and state Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box declined to provide numbers of ICU beds and ventilators to media outlets requesting them. On Monday, that abruptly changed.

Updated 3/26/2020 5:09 pm

Ventilators are among the most important equipment hospitals need to treat a surge of COVID-19 patients. Companies such as General Motors are gearing up emergency production of the machines, which take over the labor of breathing for a patient with a serious case of the virus. 

Physicians across the country have a message for the National Rifle Association: Gun violence is our concern. It's part of a battle being fought vigorously on Twitter in recent weeks.

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids.

“Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up getting high,” he says.

It was a scheduling mishap that led Kourtnaye Sturgeon to help save someone’s life. About four months ago, Sturgeon drove to downtown Indianapolis for a meeting. She was a week early.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said.


In a sunny patch of grass in the middle of Indianapolis' Crown Hill Cemetery, 45 people recently gathered around a large blackboard. The words "Before I Die, I Want To ..." were stenciled on the board in bold white letters.

Sixty-two-year-old Tom Davis led us through the thousands of gravestones scattered across the cemetery. He'd been thinking about his life and death a lot in the previous few weeks, he told us. On March 22, he'd had a heart attack.

Carla used to get dialysis a couple of times a week at the public hospital in Indianapolis, Eskenazi Hospital. She would sit in a chair for hours as a machine took blood out of her arm, cleaned it and pumped it back into her body.

Then one day in 2014, she was turned away.

Even though her lungs were full of fluid, the doctors said her condition wasn't urgent enough to treat that day, she says. "I explained to the doctors that I couldn't breathe," she recalls, "and they told me it wasn't true, that I had to wait three more days."

Last year, Erin and Isaac Hougland of Indianapolis got certified to become foster parents, with the hope of adopting a baby. Just a few weeks later, they got a call.

An 8-week-old baby needed a home. All they knew was that the boy's mother was a heroin addict and had left him at the hospital. They were told that because of the drugs, the baby might require some special care. But mostly, he just needed a place to go.

"Both of us were just like, 'Let's do it,' " says Isaac Hougland. "We wrapped up what we were doing at work and went to the hospital."