The Wrongful Imprisonment of Jose Luis Garcia

The Wrongful Imprisonment of
Jose Luis Garcia

Story by Gabriel Scarlett and Skyler Ballard

Residing in in the Unites States for 50 years and a current green card holder, Jose Luis Garcia was arrested by ICE as part of a new Trump administration policy targeting legal and illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. The policy put in place to deport gang members ended up arresting people like 62-year-old Garcia who had a minor infraction 17 years ago.
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Jose watches fireworks from his rooftop on July 4th. For weeks after his imprisonment, he suffered from nightmares and sleepless nights. But he remains positive and says that achieving his full citizenship is his number one priority. “I will continue to do the right things with my family and I will become a U.S. citizen in no time.”


More than a week after the arrest of her father Jose (who is a green card holder), Natalie Garcia tries to console her daughter Marley outside their home in Arleta, California from which Jose was taken. He had been watering his lawn and preparing for a shift driving for Uber, one of his three jobs, when ICE officials detained him for deportation for a charge from two decades ago. Since his arrest, Marley has slept in his bed and lays out his clothes each day to pretend that he is there.

The Pain We Cause

The Pain We Cause:

The entanglement of addiction and incarceration in Kentucky, told in two parts.

By Morgan Hornsby and Gabriel Scarlett

Upon her release from jail for drug-related offenses, Amy McKeown struggles to adjust to life at a home with a family she has alienated during decades of addiction.
At the Warren County Jail, volunteers and staffers try to prepare inmates for reentry into society, but the challenges of life on the outside still prove daunting for most.


Once a month, the Warren County Jail allows local churches to come to the facility to hold a baptism service for inmates who wish to participate. Part of Miles’ job is to coordinate with local groups, like churches, recovery groups, local businesses, and a community college

WKUPJ Senior Skyler Ballard tells a story of immigration

En Muerto En Vida


In the thirteen years that Jorge and Christina Zaldivar have been married, the family has been fighting for Jorge’s legal residency in the U.S. With a changing administration and an increasing focus on ICE and immigration policies, the family fears that Jorge’s time in the U.S. will soon be up.

Ballard began documenting the family during her summer internship at The Denver Post. See the entire story here.


Michelle Hanks chosen to attend Danish School of Media and Journalism

Michelle Hanks has been chosen to attend the Danish School of Media and Journalism this spring as part of an exchange program used to give students a chance of engaging in visual storytelling internationally.  The program, now in its 5th year, as brought students from Denmark to attend classes at WKU and in return has sent several of our students to Denmark for a semester.

Hanks, from Chattanooga, TN, is in her Junior year as a Photojournalism major.

This Fall Hanks documented Natasha a young mother battling with recovery with the hope of getting custody of her 4-month old baby. Her child was taken away from her four days after birth, because of her addiction to drugs.

WKUPJ KNPA Winners 2019

WKUPJ Students win big at the 2019 Kentucky News Photographer’s Association competition.

Student Photographer of the Year: Gabriel Scarlet

After 19 days of imprisonment and 12 hours of transportation between facilities, Jose Luis Garcia is released to his family and friends. As one last added insult, ICE agents drove Jose around for hours to avoid the media seeing his release. After changing the release location twice, he was dropped on a street corner alone.

Sports Student Photographer of the Year: Silas Walker

Harlem Globetrotter’s guard “Flip” (19) swings off the hoop after climbing on it to block the Washington General’s shots during their performance on at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018.

Student Feature Picture Story:
1st: Grace Pritchett
3rd: Silas Walker
HM: Gabriel Scarlett

McFadden waits for daughter Amity to fall asleep after a long day. ÒFrom the outside I’m probably perceived as an adult who has her stuff together. I do not. I’m just making it up as I go along. I still feel like a child,” said McFadden.

Student Multimedia (Unlimited): Honorable Mention, Gabriel Scarlett
Student Sport Picture Story: 1st place, Silas Walker

Student News Picture Story:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Silas Walker

More than a week after the arrest of her father Jose (who is a green card holder), Natalie Garcia tries to console her daughter Marley outside their home in Arleta, California from which Jose was taken.

Student Pictorial: 1st place, Silas Walker

Severe thunderstorms roll through Scott County causing damage in and around Lexington, KY on Friday July 20, 2018.

Student Portrait/Personality:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Grace Pritchett

Student Sports Feature: 3rd place, Grace Pritchett

Student Sports Action: 1st place, Silas Walker

Students Feature Picture:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Gabriel Scarlett

Jennifer and Cameron share ice cubes and a few kisses on a hot evening in Tevistion, California. Both their parents emigrated from Oklahoma with the rest of the “Black Okies” in mid-twentieth century to work the fields of the Central Valley. Jennifer moved to the cities briefly but has been forced to return to her family’s crumbling home to raise her two children.

Student General News: 3rd place, Gabriel Scarlett

Student Spot News:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Silas Walker
HM: Gabriel Scarlett

Pueblo police clear abandoned houses in Bessemer on the city’s South Side that are suspected of being used for prostitution and drug use. Officers describe a difficult and delicate balance that must be walked between proactive community policing and the ability to flip a switch when called upon in violent situations. Nearly half of the police force has participated in officer-involved shootings.

Defying All Odds

Defying All Odds

A mother’s determination to make a change for herself and family

By Kathryn Ziesig

Work hard, go to college, get a good job, meet your mate, settle down, have kids, and retire comfortably. The American dream, an idealized version of how one’s life is supposed to playout.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful.” It is a goal people have been chasing for decades, but what happens when someone’s life doesn’t quite match up to the perfect outline?

The complete story can be viewed here

Embody – by Srijita Chattopadhyay

She had the life others could only dream of, a career as a musician in the music city – Nashville, Tennessee. She was talented, and she was beautiful. There was nothing that could stop her rise to stardom. Although, at the end of the day in the solitude of her dressing room she would weep because she was born a ‘she.’

Spirit Bomb – by Ida Marie Odgaard

In a world where wheelchairs seem to go as fast as “Sonic” and basketballs that can turn into “Dragonball Z spirit bombs,” 15-year old David Moore from Bowling Green, Kentucky might not see the world exactly as the other teenage boys in the neighborhood but he’s got his own hopes and dreams for the future – and is not letting autism stop him on his way.


WKUPJ wins Hearst Intercollegiate Championships in photojournalism and multimedia

We are a proud group of WKUPJ faculty, staff and alumni and are always amazed by the dedication and talent of our students. Once again, WKUPJ has won the Hearst Intercollegiate Championship in Photojournalism and Multimedia. This is the 24th time WKUPJ has won in Photojournalism and this is our 7th year in a row that we have won Multimedia.  So many people to thank… and since we are visual people, it might be easier to show than tell.  Congratulations to all, and for a full rundown with links to their work, please visit

Families tell their story of loss to Louisville’s Gun Violence

Michael Blackshire started his journey to document victims of gun violence last semester in Louisville, Ky. What started as a series of portraits evolved over time as he came closer with the family’s of homicide victims and began recording their stories with audio then transitioning to video. As the project became bigger he brought together a team of WKUPJ students to help him bring his vision for the story together. Michael along with Fahad Alotaibi, Gabriel Scarlett, and Shaban Athuman attempt to tell the stories of people that often feel their stories aren’t being told.

To view the entire piece, visit



Rochelle Turner wraps her body around her only son’s Ricky Jones High School jacket. Ricky Jones was murdered April 2017 from gun violence at the age of 29-years-old. “At first I would look at other mothers who lost their sons and thing their sons were into something and mine wasn’t. I would think that maybe if my son was doing something wrong or died from a disease or committed suicide I would be able to find closure, but in any way I can’t bring my son back. Hew was murdered but his life wasn’t his own. He had five children who now have to live without a father in their life,” said Smith.

Judy Wilkins, Jasmine Wilkins, and Sherry Simmons, left to right, hold the graduation picture of Gregory Wilkins who was murdered at his home on November 26, 1996 at 1737 South 22nd Street, Louisville, KY. “I visit his grave once a week. I have been once a week for 21 years,” said his mother Judy Wilkins. “I once dreamed that he was reaching out to my hand and I almost reached his. I said baby why did they take you so soon. He told me my time had come.The last thing I heard him say is take care of Jasmine, and let Sherry know that I love her, and that I love you, my mother and my dad. Then he was gone.”

Craig Bland holds middle school and elementary school photos of his son Craig Bland Jr. and Toreze Bland who were both murdered in 2012 and 2015 from gun violence in Louisville. “After my first son was murdered the situation made me worried about loosing my youngest son. I thought it was only a matter of time until they shot my youngest one. The streets killed my sons. My son’s were good people they just were around the wrong people. I watched my wife Diana die from cancer in front of my eyes, my brother was murdered, my two nephews were murdered, and now I have no more sons, no more children. There used to be a lot of live in this house. That love is gone now.” said Bland.