New York, NY – January 23, 2009 -- Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice today announced that Christine Young of the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY), and Eric Nalder and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative team are the winners of the College’s 2009 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards. The awards presentation will take place on Tuesday, February 3 at a luncheon held in conjunction with the 4th annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium: A New Beginning? Exploring Criminal Justice Over the Next Four Years, hosted by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ).
Christine Young of the Times Herald-Record won the 2009 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (single-story category) for her investigation into the 1989 conviction of Lebrew Jones, who spent 20 years in prison on charges of murdering a Manhattan prostitute. As a result of her article, “I Didn’t Do that Murder,” published Jan. 13, 2008, the Manhattan District Attorney has opened a new investigation into the case. “Young pursued every imaginable lead she could in tracking down key characters in her story,” Times Herald-Record editor Chris Mele said in his nomination letter. “(She) was relentless.”
Eric Nalder and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative team won the 2009 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (series category) for “The Strong Arm of the Law,” a multi-part series that ran in January and February 2008 and exposed Seattle police bias in obstruction arrests and the questionable handling of complaints against police over the wrongful use of force. As one of this year’s judges noted, The Post-Intelligencer series “exposes what too long goes ignored by crime reporters – police failure to investigate or discipline themselves, and overuse of ‘obstruction’ charges to cover up wrongdoing.”
"This annual awards event is indeed gratifying for all of us at John Jay College since it allows us to recognize journalists from across the country and acknowledge the importance of their role in criminal justice issues. This year’s winning news stories highlighted issues of vital importance to their communities. Moreover, the journalists’ reporting showed that their newspapers, large and small take seriously their commitment to reporting on criminal justice issues,” said Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College.
“Both prizewinning entries displayed the qualities the John Jay Prize has sought to recognize over the past four years: a high quality of writing and reporting, and a demonstrable impact on criminal justice practice in the community,” said Stephen Handelman, director of John Jay’s Center on Media Crime and Justice. “In an era when the news industry is suffering the effects of budget restraints, we’re proud to honor journalist enterprise.”
Honorable mentions in the single-entry category were awarded to Steve Weinberg of Miller- McCune Magazine for his series “Innocent until Reported Guilty,” an in-depth exploration of wrongful convictions around the U.S.; and Lomi Kriel and John Tedesco of the San Antonio News-Express for their story “Tactics Under Fire”, a critical examination of San Antonio’s Police Tactical Response Unit.
An honorable mention in the series category was awarded to Geoff Dutton and Mike Wagner of The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch for their series “Test of Convictions: Lost Hope,” which examined Ohio’s DNA inmate testing program.
The Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards, presented annually by the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice, are open to U.S.-based print and online journalists. They were established to honor journalists whose reporting informs and enhances the public’s understanding of issues related to crime in America. Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize.
The distinguished panel of five judges for the 2009 awards included: Rosemary Barberet, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Joe Domanick, veteran crime author and reporter, and a Fellow at the CMCJ and the Institute for Justice and Journalism (USC Annenberg School for Communication); Ted Gest, president, Criminal Justice Journalists; Susan Greene, columnist, Denver Post and 2007 John Jay Prize Winner; and Alberto Vourvoulias -Bush, Editor-In-Chief, El- Diario-La Prensa.
The award is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform.
The winning entries will be posted on the John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice web site.
About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, its faculty are the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.
The Center on Media, Crime and Justice, established at John Jay College in 2006, is the nation's only practice- and research-oriented think tank devoted to encouraging and developing high-quality reporting on criminal justice, and to promoting better-informed public debate on the complex 21st-century challenges of law enforcement, public security and justice in a globalized urban society. For more information, visit http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/cmcj.