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NCPR News Staff: Natasha Haverty

Reporter and Producer

Natasha Haverty has an English degree from Brown University and got her radio training at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine.

From Maine she went to work at The Moth, a nonprofit in New York City devoted to the art of live storytelling, where she was the coordinator of the community outreach program that teaches workshops to schools and community centers and brings storytellers to the Moth stage (and the radio). She also helped produce the first two seasons of Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour (now playing on NPR stations across the country).

Tasha returned to her home state after receiving the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’ “Liberty and Justice for All” grant to create an oral history of the Norfolk Prison Debating Society, which had an outstanding record against top college teams in the Forties and Fifties. She recently premiered her original 'improvised audio drama' The Yankee City Series at a live listening event at Harvard University. Tasha arrived in the North Country on April Fool's Day, 2012. E-mail

Stories filed by Natasha Haverty

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The day opened with drumming by the NAACP Albany Branch Student Theater Outreach Program (S.T.O.P.). Photo: Beehive Productions
The day opened with drumming by the NAACP Albany Branch Student Theater Outreach Program (S.T.O.P.). Photo: Beehive Productions

At John Brown Day, what does freedom mean?

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In a few months, it will be exactly fifty years since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

And this past weekend, one organization in the North Country held its annual birthday party for John Brown, on the Adirondack farm he lived in for two years, and the place where his body is buried.  Go to full article
Congressman Bill Owens hosted a group of security officials and business leaders at Clarkson University to discuss trade and travel across the US/Canada border. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Congressman Bill Owens hosted a group of security officials and business leaders at Clarkson University to discuss trade and travel across the US/Canada border. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Travel, job creation on table at Owens US/Canada border forum

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, crossing the border with Canada has become a much more difficult experience. Congressman Bill Owens hosted a group of security officials and business leaders at Clarkson University on Friday, April 5, to talk about how to move people and goods over the border securely, and create jobs.  Go to full article
"My association with being a felon is probably the same as most people's: You're dehumanized. There's a stamp on your forehead that says 'you're less than.'" Photo: Natasha Haverty
"My association with being a felon is probably the same as most people's: You're dehumanized. There's a stamp on your forehead that says 'you're less than.'" Photo: Natasha Haverty

Alternatives to Incarceration: Back in the world

Today, the final part in a series about society's efforts to turn away from long-term incarceration for nonviolent offenders. In Part one, we met Jeff, a college-bound young man from Western New York who fell into serious drug addiction, broke into a pharmacy, and cycled through drug courts and rehab for years before being sentenced to prison.

But instead of serving a four year sentence, Jeff went to Moriah Shock, a bootcamp-style, six-month program in the Adirondacks. We left off yesterday when Jeff was three months away from his release, and feeling confident his time in Shock would help him stay drug and crime-free when he returned home.

"I mean obviously I'm not going to walk around, I'm not going to march around and call cadence, but it helps establish certain discipline that's essential through the program, and this is from the heart, I'm not just speaking to build up the program because I know whatever I say is going to be fine."

In Part three, producer Natasha Haverty finds Jeff back in the world, rebuilding his life and looking ahead.  Go to full article
Lunchtime in the mess hall. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Lunchtime in the mess hall. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Alternatives to Incarceration: into Shock prison

This week as part of our Prison Time Media Project, producer Natasha Haverty is looking at some of the approaches cash-strapped states are taking to try and cut prison their populations.

Yesterday, we began the story of Jeff, a young man from western New York who fell into serious drug addiction and broke into a pharmacy to feed his habit. After spending years cycling through drug courts, unable to stay off drugs, he was sent to prison here in the North Country.

"It's very true to say that I as given a great opportunity at drug court and I failed. I failed at drug court. I failed. I'm going to prison, for years. That's the lowest of the low, that's the lowest I can think of before death."

But unlike many other inmates, Jeff was sent to a shock prison in Moriah, in Essex County, which focuses on life skills training and rehabilitation. Part two of our series takes us to Moriah Shock and finds Jeff at the middle of his prison sentence.  Go to full article
Jeff in class. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Jeff in class. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Alternatives to Incarceration: One man enters the system

When Governor Nelson Rockefeller pushed through his landmark drug laws in New York forty years ago, he argued that any alternatives to his new tough on crime zero tolerance approach had failed:

"I was on this kick of trying to get the addict off the street, into treatment. Now this was a beautiful concept, except it just didn't happen to relate to the realities because the pushers keep finding new people. And I have to say that as far as I am aware, there is no known, absolute cure for addiction."

But in recent years, those Rockefeller Drug Laws have gone through a series of reforms. These days, cash-strapped states like New York are struggling to reduce inmate populations so that they can close expensive prisons. Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to mothball two more correctional facilities downstate this year.

And reducing the number of people behind bars means experimenting with diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders: States are offering counseling programs, rehabilitation and therapy, and opening alternative, "drug courts." The goal is to battle drug addiction without incarceration.

This week, as part of our Prison Time Media Project, Natasha Haverty follows the journey of one man through a system that's trying to turn away from mass incarceration. Here's part one of her three-part series.  Go to full article
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in Massena on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Gillibrand promotes manufacturing bill at Alcoa Massena

Senator Gillibrand was in Massena Friday, talking about her "Made in America Act", her first bill in the 113th Congress. The senator said she chose to appear at the Alcoa East Plant for its symbolic significance.  Go to full article
George Prendes, outside the apartment he lived in before he went to prison, on 107th Street and Central Park West.
George Prendes, outside the apartment he lived in before he went to prison, on 107th Street and Central Park West.

Fifteen years behind bars under Rockefeller drug laws

Imagine for a moment the dumbest thing you've ever done in your life. The worst mistake, the biggest lapse in judgment. Now imagine that that one blunder cost you fifteen years of your life.

This week, we're launching our Prison Time Media Project, exploring the legacy of the Rockefeller drug laws.

The controversial sentencing rules created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller 40 years ago sent tens of thousands of men and women to prison, with many serving 15 to 25 years behind bars.

George Prendes was one of those people.  Go to full article
Jemila Saleh in her kitchen in Potsdam. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Jemila Saleh in her kitchen in Potsdam. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Eritrean refugee finds home in cooking

Eritrea is a small country in the African Horn. It's been at war on and off with neighboring Ethiopia for decades. And since 2001, the government has been sending thousands of its citizens to prison for being a part of any faith group that isn't on the government's approved list of churches.

Jemila Saleh is sure she would have been sent to prison for her beliefs, if it hadn't been for a series of what she calls miracles. Just after her pastor was imprisoned, Jemila connected with a church here in the North Country, and they offered to support her escape. So in the middle of the night Jemila packed up all she could, and got on airplane with her three daughters. Members of the church picked them up at the Syracuse airport with a backseat full of blankets and winter coats, and brought them to their new apartment in Potsdam, which the church members had rented and furnished.

Four and a half years later, Jemila has a degree in finance from SUNY Canton, her daughters are in school, and Jemila is practicing her faith freely here. But the way she's kept a grip on her life, and her story, is through cooking.  Go to full article
Voter leaving Dekalb Town Hall on Election Day. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Voter leaving Dekalb Town Hall on Election Day. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Voter voxpop: Moments around St. Lawrence County

St. Lawrence County saw strong voter turn out on Tuesday. Reporter Natasha Haverty captured some audio portraits of the North Country.  Go to full article
Green Party candidate Donald Hassig. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Green Party candidate Donald Hassig. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Green Party candidate throws support to Owens

The results of a Siena Poll released Thursday, Nov. 1, showing the 21st Congressional race in a dead heat, has the third party candidate recognizing that he could be the spoiler. So Tuesday when Green party candidate Don Hassig enters the ballot box, he won't be voting for himself, and he's encouraging his supporters to do the same.  Go to full article

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