Samantha Max | Nashville Public Radio

Samantha Max

Criminal Justice Reporter

Samantha Max covers criminal justice for WPLN as a Report for America corps member. This is her second year with Report for America: She spent her first year in Macon, Ga., covering health and inequity for The Telegraph and 

Previously, she was an investigative reporting intern for the Medill Justice Project and a bilingual multimedia news intern at Hoy, Chicago Tribune’s Spanish-language daily. She returned to her hometown of Baltimore in 2015 and again in 2016 to work as a newsroom intern for NPR-affiliate WYPR.


Chas Sisk / WPLN

An East Tennessee man has been executed for the 1986 murder of a teenage girl and her mother.

Thursday night, Stephen West became the third person in the state to be put to death in the electric chair in less than a year. The electrocutions have come amid questions about whether the alternative, lethal injection, causes intense pain.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

A new report published Tuesday by the Safe Tennessee Project finds that gun deaths are on the rise in Tennessee and outpace the national average. The gun-control advocacy group says the state’s lenient gun laws could be partially to blame.

Samantha Max / WPLN

It's a Tuesday morning in July, and Jacob Freudiger is sitting at an old wooden table, with a marbled notebook and pen at the ready. The 21-year-old, dressed in a matching orange V-neck and sweats with scribbles down the thigh, has never written a song before. 

But across the table, in this stuffy room at the Davidson County Jail, two veteran songwriters have guitars in their laps, ready to turn his thoughts into music.

Courtesy of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department of Correction.

A senior Tennessee prisons employee has been killed, and an inmate on the loose is the suspect.

Curtis Ray Watson escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Wednesday and is still at large. 


Cyntoia Brown was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women early Wednesday morning, after serving 15 years of a life sentence for killing a man who solicited sex when she was a teenager.

Brown says she hopes to dedicate her next chapter to mentoring  girls who have suffered abuse. 

Courtesy Daniel H. Birman Productions

Cyntoia Brown will be released from prison Wednesday, having served 15 years for killing a man while a victim of sex trafficking as a teenager.

Former Gov. Bill Haslam granted Brown full clemency in January, saying her life sentence was too harsh. Brown’s case raises questions about the state’s strict sentencing guidelines. 

Samantha Max / WPLN

The sun is starting to sink on a humid summer evening when a crowd of friends and family members link arms, holding candles. Drops of hot wax spill onto the grass at a park across the street from where Daniel Hambrick was shot one year ago. 

Samantha Max / WPLN

Read in English.

En medio de redadas de inmigración a gran escala, agentes federales (ICE) llegaron a una subdivisión tranquila en Hermitage el lunes por la mañana para hacer un arresto. Videos en donde aparecían residentes y activistas locales haciendo una cadena humana para proteger a su vecino rápidamente se volvieron virales.

Samantha Max / WPLN

Leer en español.

Amid threats of large-scale raids, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up in a quiet Hermitage subdivision Monday morning to make an arrest. Videos soon went viral of residents and local activists forming a human chain to protect their neighbor.

Samantha Max / WPLN

Nashville’s new Community Oversight Board has been in place for six months and has already launched three investigations. At its monthly meeting Wednesday night, the 11-member board took the next step toward finalizing its agreement with police and approved a draft of the contract.