An outtake’s third life

Today I have a new story at The Crime Report that is a testament to persistence — or stubbornness.

Back in December 2015, I went to St. Louis on an assignment for The New York Times. There I met a federal judge whose story interested me. My editors cut that part out of the story, which was published in June 2016. Last spring, while working on another St. Louis crime story, this one for Politico and The Trace that was published in September, I called the judge again.  We talked at length. But, again, he ended up on the cutting room floor.

Then I pitched it last November to The Crime Report in the as-told-to form. The editor there liked it but held it until after publishing another Q&A by me last week. Finally, today, it ran.

What’s so special about this judge? I was struck by the way he described why he insists on meeting one on one with every person he sent to prison, soon after their release. He had mentioned this to me when I first met him in 2015, and then explained it in detail to me last year. Federal judges often shy away from talking to reporters, but not Webber, at least not on this topic. I appreciated his gift for storytelling as well as his reasoning for trying to help former prisoners land on their feet. And I’m glad I finally got to tell the story.



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