Reporter Lane DeGregory and photographer John Pendygraft met Stacy Nicholson in drug court in February and followed her, with her permission, throughout the year.
They saw her in court, in jail, at the halfway house, at work and at her mother's house. The journalists were present for most of the scenes in the story. Pendygraft was at the hospital with Stacy and her family when Stacy's cousin died.
The opening scene was reconstructed from interviews with Stacy and Sherry Alkire. The scene in which Ray Harris checks on Stacy at work is based on interviews with Stacy, her mom, her aunt, Harris and his assistant.
Additional information came from police reports, court documents and Stacy's essays. Times researchers Caryn Baird and Natalie Watson located experts and added state and national statistics.
DeGregory, 44, joined the St. Petersburg Times in 2000. She is a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists and has won numerous national journalism awards, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for "The Girl in the Window."
Pendygraft, 41, has received numerous national journalism honors, including National Headliner and National Press Photographers Association awards for his portfolio. He has been with the Times since 1997.