FRONTLINE: “The Child Case”
When a child dies under suspicious circumstances, abuse is often suspected. That’s what happened in the case of six-month-old Isis Vas, whose death was deemed “a clear-cut and classic” case of child abuse, sending a man named Ernie Lopez to prison for 60 years. But now a Texas judge has moved to overturn Lopez’s conviction, and new questions are being asked about the quality of expert testimony in this and many other similar cases.
In this joint investigation with ProPublica and NPR, FRONTLINE correspondent A.C. Thompson unearths more than 20 child death cases in which people were jailed on medical evidence—involving abuse, assault, and “shaken baby syndrome”—that was later found unreliable or flat-out wrong. Are death investigators being properly trained for child cases?
Also in this magazine hour: Correspondent Martin Smith continues to investigate for-profit colleges, this time focusing on their aggressive recruitment of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Are the for-profits making promises that they can’t keep?
And closing the hour: New Yorker writer and FRONTLINE correspondent Atul Gawande reports on a doctor in Camden, New Jersey, who actually seeks out the community’s sickest—and most expensive—patients. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner and his team are pioneering a practice called “hotspotting,” in which medical care is focused on the hardest-to-treat to improve their health and dramatically reduce costs.
Watch June 28 at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS and WHTJ PBS.