Best of 2021: Jo Ciavaglia digs into records to search for answers and tells untold stories of the forgotten

·2 min read

About Jo: I am a veteran journalist at the Bucks County Courier Times and currently its second-longest tenured news employee. I started getting paid for writing at age 19. I am a shameless cat lady. Active workaholic. I teach indoor cycling classes. I’m on SATC Team Samantha. Hamilton is work of musical genius. Inexhaustibly passionate about voicing untold stories, holding those in power accountable, finding truth and showing fairness.

Best of 2021: Bucks County Courier Times editors, reporters share their favorite stories

A fun fact about me: My first paying job as a journalist was writing reviews for a weekly newspaper of New Hope Playhouse productions.

Favorite story of 2021: Was it necessary for Bucks corrections officers to use force against mentally ill woman 6 times?

Kim Stringer seen here in the pages of her parent's photo album struggled academically and socially in school as a result of her mental illness
Kim Stringer seen here in the pages of her parent's photo album struggled academically and socially in school as a result of her mental illness

Why do I consider it my best work? Research suggests that incarceration can trigger a mental health crisis. Kim Stringer had a long history of serious mental illness when she was a Bucks County inmate in 2020, and she was in the throes of a break from reality when she was arrested for allegedly punching a neighbor. Her parents later learned during her two months of incarceration Kim was subjected to multiple uses of force including pepper spray before she was transferred to a state psychiatric hospital.

But exactly what happened to Kim, why and how many times remained a mystery, until this news organization got some of those records. Those documents and policies provided the a window into how Bucks County uses force against inmates experiencing symptoms of mental illness and shows gaps in county policies that appear to contradict when force is considered appropriate and do not treat inmates exhibiting behaviors that are symptoms of mental illness differently than those who do not.

Other favorite stories of 2021:

Jill Ostenhout, left, comforts Anya Delli Gatti, the mother of Diana Josephine Delli Gatti, one of the 12 unclaimed fetal remains, at Union Cemetery in Richboro on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Jill Ostenhout, left, comforts Anya Delli Gatti, the mother of Diana Josephine Delli Gatti, one of the 12 unclaimed fetal remains, at Union Cemetery in Richboro on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

The youngest unclaimed dead: A final resting place for the youngest unclaimed dead gives one mother hope for closure

Reunion of Neshaminy High School juniors who were injured from a DUI crash accident, March 2021, were Julia Aquilone, (second from the left), 17,  Julianna Mazzoni, 17, Angelique Corsina, 17, and Taylor Donnelly, 17, Sunday, April 25, 2021.
Reunion of Neshaminy High School juniors who were injured from a DUI crash accident, March 2021, were Julia Aquilone, (second from the left), 17, Julianna Mazzoni, 17, Angelique Corsina, 17, and Taylor Donnelly, 17, Sunday, April 25, 2021.

The "Neshaminy 4": Northampton couple recounts terrifying rescue of 4 Neshaminy students from burning car

Watchdog journalism: Warminster couldn't fire troubled cop James Carey. So it offered him a secret retirement deal

A side-by-side picture of Lisa Todd (right) and her Publicker Jane Doe forensics sculpture likeness (left).
A side-by-side picture of Lisa Todd (right) and her Publicker Jane Doe forensics sculpture likeness (left).

One mystery solved, another starts Publicker Jane Doe case: Local police detective bound and determined to give Lisa Todd justice

Police work the scene of a police shooting and standoff at Yardley Commons on Wednesday.
Police work the scene of a police shooting and standoff at Yardley Commons on Wednesday.

The crime of mental illness: Inside the Yardley standoff: How years of mental health decline led to the shooting of a police chief

In Pennsylvania alone, at least 27 people have died since 2002 after police used a conducted-energy weapon on them. At least two Pennsylvania cases involved police officers who alleged they confused their firearm with their Taser device, but unlike Daunte Wright, the victims survived.
In Pennsylvania alone, at least 27 people have died since 2002 after police used a conducted-energy weapon on them. At least two Pennsylvania cases involved police officers who alleged they confused their firearm with their Taser device, but unlike Daunte Wright, the victims survived.

Lethal force? Taser devices are meant to save lives, yet hundreds die after their use by police

Editor's note: Editors and reporters for the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer are using this final week of the year to share with our subscribers a little about ourselves, our favorite stories of the year and a sampling of our best work.

We thank our subscribers for allowing us to serve you with our local journalism. We hope you enjoy the look back at the year and learn a little bit about us, too. We appreciate your support.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Best of journalism: Investigative reporter Jo Ciavaglia shares top stories

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