Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Struggles of telling the #ManOrWoman story

Struggles of telling the #ManOrWoman story

This was not an easy story to tell because we had so many problems getting a hold of Jasmine Martinez. She was locked up in prison. Prisoners can’t take telephone calls.

Backstory: Jasmine Martinez describes herself as having both male and female sexual parts. She says she has more female parts and should be housed with women while behind bars. The Jefferson County Jail medical staff agreed with her and placed her in the general female population. However, the Department of Corrections said she is a man and housed her with men.  Jasmine has now threatened to sue the Department of Corrections because she says it violated her civil rights. If this happens, taxpayers will pay to defend the lawsuit.

I first wrote Jasmine a prison email letter in January and she sent me a letter back through snail mail.

Jasmine agreed to speak with me but the Department of Corrections would not allow us into the prison to interview her. We were told it had to do with Jasmine’s safety.

She was getting out of prison in CaƱon City in early February. The plan was to be at the prison gates when she got out. However, a huge snow storm hit our area and we couldn’t travel south on Interstate 25 safely.

I knew where Jasmine would be staying when she got out of prison so I started stopping by the house. The family she was living with eventually had her call me and we set up an interview.

In TV, a reporter is never sure if someone will show up for the interview. Jasmine did and we talked for about an hour. I found her to be very frank but nice.

At the time, we didn’t have medical release forms so Jasmine could give the Colorado Department of Corrections or Jefferson County Jail permission to share her medical details with us.

A few days later we got the needed forms signed.

Then the Department of Corrections questioned whether the forms were valid because she had signed her signature as Jasmine Martinez. Her name in DOC is Jose Ruiz. Luckily for me, I also had her sign Jose Ruiz it just wasn’t very legible. After some discussion DOC agreed to hand over the records.

We got them last Friday. Over the weekend and all day Monday my producer and I reviewed the documents.

Talk about a fast turn on a story. I’d like to know what you think. It will be on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on channel 20 and 10 p.m. on channel 9.