WBUR Staff

Deborah Becker

Host/Reporter, WBUR

Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR.  Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

Deb is also a substitute host on several WBUR programs and helps produce and report for various WBUR special projects. Deb also worked on the launch of WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR News Station, where she served as Morning Edition host and host of the weekly show “Focus Rhode Island.”

Before coming to WBUR, Deb worked at Monitor Radio, the broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. She also worked at several Boston area radio stations. Deb has received numerous awards for her hosting, newscasts, reporting and investigative reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Education Writers Association, Associated Press, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Parent/Professional Advocacy League and United Press International. She has also completed several fellowships on addiction, mental health, juvenile justice and journalism and the law.

Deb studied journalism at St. Bonaventure University. She lives with her family in central Massachusetts.

Recent stories

Richard Simone, Suspect Beaten By Police In N.H., Held Without Bail

May 18, 2016
Richard Simone of Worcester, Massachusetts, is pictured during an arraignment last week in Nashua, New Hampshire. A Massachusetts judge ordered him held without bail Wednesday. (Aram Boghosian/The Boston Globe via AP)

In court Wednesday, Simone’s attorney, Laurel Singer, argued that he be released to take care of his resulting medical issues.

Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Calls For People To ‘Get Closer’ To ‘Suffering’ Communities

May 17, 2016

Bryan Stevenson, one of the nation’s leading criminal justice reform advocates, discusses solutions he sees to help curb mass incarceration in the U.S.

MIT Prof: ‘Pressures Are Building’ In Contract Dispute Between Verizon, Employees

May 17, 2016

More than a month after Verizon workers walked off their jobs, union leaders and company officials are set to resume contract negotiations on Tuesday. We speak with MIT’s Thomas Kochan about the ongoing dispute.

State’s Opioid Epidemic Is Vividly Seen On Boston’s ‘Methadone Mile’

May 13, 2016
Pardini reaches down to check on a person sleeping on a piece of cardboard on Melnea Cass Boulevard. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“This has to be the worst section of the city right now,” Vinny Pardini, a resident at a recovery program, says of the one-mile stretch of Massachusetts Avenue. “It’s full of active addicts, using on a daily basis.”

What Happens When Someone Is Hospitalized For Mental Health Issues

May 12, 2016

Dr. Rebecca Brendel joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to talk about the process when someone is hospitalized for mental health issues.

Health Care And Civic Leaders Launch Serious Illness Care Coalition

May 12, 2016
Dr. Atul Gawande, a co-chair of the Serious Illness Care coalition, is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. (Courtesy)

The aim of the group is to encourage patients, doctors and family members to talk about what type of care they want when facing a serious illness.

Boston Attorney Calls For Investigation Into Abuse Allegations At Region’s Private Schools

May 09, 2016
John Sweeney, 57, right, weeps as Adrian Hooper, 64, listens during a news conference Monday at the office of Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Sweeney and Hooper allege they were sexually assaulted by staff members at the Fessenden School in Newton. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Mitchell Garabedian’s statement comes after a Boston Globe report found that over the past 25 years, more than 200 students have accused staffers of abuse at dozens of private schools.

A Look At The Fallout As State’s Crime Labs Come Under Scrutiny For Second Time

May 05, 2016

A report released by the attorney general’s office found system-wide failures at the state drug lab in Amherst.

Sudders, Bharel Discuss Release Of 2015 Opioid Death Numbers

May 02, 2016

New numbers released Monday show that 1,379 people died from opioid overdoses in the state in 2015. And that number is expected to top 1,500 once all death investigations are complete.

Some Doctors Say Focus Of Opioid Addiction Treatment Must Shift From Medication To Long-Term Recovery

May 02, 2016
Opioids include drugs like OxyContin, which are arranged in this 2013 file photo at a pharmacy. (Toby Talbot/AP)

While most say medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction improves patient outcomes, some doctors are questioning seeking a cure from the same industry they say caused the problem.

As Mass. Grapples With Opioid Crisis, More Babies Are Being Born Exposed To Drugs

March 25, 2016
James smiles and claps as occupational therapist Victoria Peake tests his development  during a check up at the Newborn Developmental Follow up Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. Director of the Clinic, Dr. Leslie Kerzner is seated left and James' adoptive mother Kristen Fountaine in the center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The most recent state hospital data suggest that the rate of drug dependent newborns has skyrocketed to about 16 in every 1,000 births — about three times the national average.

Judges Appears To Favor NFL During Deflategate Hearing

March 03, 2016

The NFL is appealing a lower court’s ruling that vacated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.

Moulton Calls For ‘Better Data’ As Fishermen Must Now Pay For At-Sea Monitor Costs

March 01, 2016

Fishing monitors were funded by the National Marine Fisheries Services, but the funds dried up.

The Opioid Treatment Business Is Booming

March 01, 2016
Recovery Centers of America is spending some $20 million to renovate the former Hunt Hospital in Danvers into what will eventually be a 210 bed substance use treatment center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“[I]t’s an industry that unfortunately is seeing exploding demand,” said Leslie Henshaw, of a New York private equity firm that specializes in health care investing.

Pindell: Massachusetts Could Be Sanders’ ‘Last Stand’ In 2016 Campaign

February 29, 2016

The Massachusetts primary will play a big role in the Democratic presidential contest. Voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday.

Salisbury Woman’s Death Shows The Complications In Responding To Opioid Crisis

January 29, 2016
Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport is seen on Friday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Gretchen Fordham received the overdose reversal drug Narcan in the ER. But she still left the hospital with a prescription for opioid pain pills.

Health Insurers Step In To Help Stem Opioid Crisis In Mass.

January 19, 2016
For some health insurers, there are critical costs to helping members struggling with drug addiction succeed at staying healthy and off drugs. As a result, these insurers are trying new ways to offer support to those at risk. (Toby Talbot/AP)

Several health insurance companies are taking new steps to deal with the nation’s growing opioid epidemic — like making sure its members stay on track during recovery.

New Review Of Mass. Criminal Justice System Prompts Deeper Look Into Recidivism

January 13, 2016
In this 2004 photo, prisoners are seen at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, in Shirely, Mass. A new report shows that similar to trends seen nationally, the state's total incarcerated population has dropped 12 percent from 2006 to 2015. (Steven Senne/AP)

The report by The Council of State Governments Justice Center found a 12 percent drop in the state’s total incarcerated population between 2006 and 2015.

In 2015, The Opioid Crisis Continued To Ravage Massachusetts

December 28, 2015

Massachusetts’ opioid crisis continued to be a major story of 2015. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger joined Deborah Becker on Morning Edition to discuss the issue.

Portrait Photographer Elsa Dorfman, Known For Her Giant Polaroid Camera, Is Retiring

December 22, 2015
A fixture in Cambridge for decades and known for portraits often described as capturing the soul of her subjects, Esla Dorfman is taking her last shots. Here, Dorfman stands with her huge 20x24 Polaroid camera in her Cambridge studio. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A fixture in Cambridge for decades and known for portraits often described as capturing the soul of her subjects, Elsa Dorfman is taking her last shots.

‘Dealing With The Immediate Crisis’: What It's Like For EMTs Responding To Overdose

September 28, 2015
Boston Emergency Medical Services Deputy Superintendent Edmund Hassan (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

These first responders often say they know most won’t get help after leaving the hospital following an overdose — and many will need to be revived someday again.

Boston Poetry Marathon Kicks Off Friday

August 14, 2015
Jim Behrle, poet-wrangler of the Boston Poetry Marathon, with his poem, "Free Brady." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

About 100 poets will read their work in eight-minute increments during the event, which will take place through Sunday at Outpost 186 in Cambridge.

As T.T. The Bear’s Closes, Bands And Fans Say Goodbye

July 24, 2015
As manager Kevin Patey opens the doors at T.T. the Bear’s, Jutes Leeden and Tina Forsyth inquire about ticket sales wanting to see the band Stop Calling Me Frank during the clubs final week of shows. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Many of the well known rock bands from Boston who got early starts at the club in Cambridge have been making farewell visits.

2 Historic Martha’s Vineyard Theaters Reopening This Summer

May 29, 2015
The Capawock Theatre first opened in Vineyard Haven in 1913. (Courtesy Max Skjöldebrand)

Some history is coming back to life on Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

Writing To Heal From Trauma: Women Pen Memoirs With Help From Michael Patrick MacDonald

March 27, 2015
Four of the women who took part in the "Close to Home" memoirs project, including Jennifer McCall, left. (Courtesy Crittenton Women's Union/Richard Howard Photography)

A program at Crittenton Women’s Union in Boston is helping women write their own memoirs as a form of healing.

Cambridge Choir School Charting High With Christmas CD

December 23, 2014
Practice at St. Paul’s Choir School (Courtesy of AimHigher Recordings)

“Christmas In Harvard Square,” by the St. Paul’s Choir School, is near the top of the classical Billboard chart.

‘Selma’ Is About ‘The Power Of Voice,’ Director Ava DuVernay Says

December 10, 2014
This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows David Oyelowo, center, as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmen Ejogo, right, as Coretta Scott King in the film, "Selma." (Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures)

In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, news cameras captured police using tear gas and billy clubs on civil rights demonstrators. Now that story is being told on the big screen for the first time.

It’s Not Business As Usual In Ferguson, Missouri

August 26, 2014
Ferguson police are visiting businesses in an effort to communicate more. (Deborah Becker)

From barber shops to bike shops, WBUR’s Deborah Becker looks at what the protests have meant for businesses.

Dookhan Was Drug Lab’s ‘Sole Bad Actor,’ Report Says

March 04, 2014
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

“However … deficiencies at the Drug Lab created an atmosphere that allowed for [Annie] Dookhan to commit her crimes,” the state inspector general wrote in his review.

Boston Doctor Chosen For New National Effort To Reform Forensic Testing

February 21, 2014

With the Massachusetts Inspector General expected to release his report on the state drug lab crisis any day now, a local doctor is part of a new national effort to reform forensic testing.

How Mass. Should Deal With Convictions Affected By Dookhan

January 10, 2014
Annie Dookhan leaves Suffolk Superior Court after being arraigned Dec. 20, 2012. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

Matt Segal of the Massachusetts ACLU discusses the criminal cases that linger as the state investigates the drug lab scandal.

ACLU Asks Mass. High Court For ‘Comprehensive Remedy’ For Drug Lab Cases

January 09, 2014

The court is again being asked for guidance on how to deal with criminal convictions thrown into question by the state drug lab crisis.

Forensic Testing A Problem In Several States

December 31, 2013

Congress could take up legislation in 2014 aimed at improving oversight of the nation’s crime labs. Critics say lawmakers need to take action after several lab scandals.

Reviewing The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Crisis

December 26, 2013

WBUR’s Deborah Becker, who has been reporting on the drug lab scandal all year, looks back on the case and at the unresolved legal ramifications of chemist Annie Dookhan’s actions.

Dookhan’s Lawyer: She Had A ‘Lapse In Judgment’

November 29, 2013

Convicted former chemist Annie Dookhan has never spoken publicly about the drug lab crisis. We speak with her lawyer, now that she’s in prison.

Forensic Testing Questions Remain After Dookhan Sentence

November 23, 2013

Former chemist Annie Dookhan began her first full day in prison Saturday, but lingering questions persist about state oversight of forensic testing.

Dookhan Pleads Guilty, Gets 3-5 Years In Prison

November 22, 2013
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

Disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan is on her way to prison for a drug lab crisis that’s created turmoil throughout the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

Date Set For Dookhan To Change Plea

October 29, 2013

A former state chemist is expected to plead guilty to charges of falsifying thousands of drug tests and throwing the entire Massachusetts criminal justice system into a tailspin.

Portraits Of Boston: A Different Way To See Strangers

August 09, 2013
portraits of boston

Photographer Ivan Velinov says he looks for interesting Bostonians who look open to sharing their stories on his blog Portraits of Boston.

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