New York, NY, January 21, 2015 – Jeremy Travis, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, today announced that Jennifer Gonnerman of TheNew Yorker magazine, and an investigative reporting team of The Post and Courierin Charleston, SC – Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes andNatalie Caula Hauff – are the winners of the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim 2015 Awards for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting.
“John Jay is proud and delighted to congratulate this year’s winners,” said President Travis. “They prove once again that powerful journalism can drive change and open to public view the darker corners of our justice system.”
The prizes, administered by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) recognize the best work published by U.S.-based print and online journalists between November 2013 and October 2014, and come with a cash award of $1,000 in each category and a plaque. Runners-up receive a certificate of Honorable Mention. Special attention is paid to work that has had an impact on public policy or debate.
Jennifer Gonnerman of The New Yorker has won the 2015 John Jay Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (single-story category) “Before the Law,” a chilling account of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen-ager who was accused of stealing a backpack and spent over a thousand days awaiting trial at Rikers Island before he was released with no charges. Gonnerman’s seven-month investigation has led to calls for a review of sentencing policy in the New York State Senate. Gonnerman’s story was “a very moving, powerfully written story about the casual ease the U.S. Justice system had in robbing a young man of several key years of his youth,” commented Megan O’Matz, one of the prize jurors. “By honing in on the mistreatment of one defendant, the magazine shows that long court delays have very personal and tragic consequences.”
Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff of The Post and Courier won the 2015 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (series category) for their five-day series "Till Death Do Us Part," exploring why South Carolina leads the nation in most domestic violence homicides of women. The series “covered a topic that is pervasive, yet too often kept to the margins of public discourse,” said prize judge Alexa Capeloto.
Runner-up in the single-entry category was awarded to Beth Schwartzapel of American Prospect for "The Great American Chain Gang," which explored prison work across the country. There were two runner-ups in the series category: the reporting team of Bob Ortega and Rob O’Dell of the Arizona Republic earned the judges’ praise for “Force at the Border," which examined the Customs and Border Protection agency, and prodded a further investigation that resulted in tightening the rules on use of deadly force. The reporting team of Jerry Mitchell,Emily Le Coz, Jackie Mader, Kate Royals, Monica Land and Sarah Butrymowicz of the Jackson, MS Clarion-Ledger was a co-runner-up for its hard-hitting investigation of the state’s prison system, “Hard Look at Hard Time.” Their series, the result of over 13 months of reporting, “reminds us of the crucial importance of great investigative journalism in holding our public officials and institutions accountable,” commented prize judge Joe Domanick.
“We hope our winners and runners-up provide inspiration to journalists to explore serious problems in the justice system in their areas,” added Ted Gest, a prize judge and president of Criminal Justice Journalists.
The awards will be presented on February 9 at a dinner in New York City, held in conjunction with the 10th annual John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America.
The college will also present Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR’s Latino USA, with the2015 John Jay Justice Trailblazer Prize at the awards dinner, in honor of her career contribution to broadening public debate about criminal justice.
“Maria, like our journalism prizewinners this year, is an inspiring example of journalism’s ability to provide a voice for those who are too often forgotten or ignored,” said CMCJ Director Stephen Handelman.
The five judges for the 2015 awards were: Alexa Capeloto, Assistant Professor of journalism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Enterprise Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune; Joe Domanick, veteran Los Angeles-based crime journalist and author; Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists; Megan O’Matz, investigative reporter at the Sun Sentinel and a 2014 John Jay/HF Guggenheim prize winner; and Rossana Rosado, Distinguished Lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former publisher and CEO of El Diario-La Prensa.
The award is supported by a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, a private grant-making foundation that supports research on violence.
The winning entries will be posted on the John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice website, http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/cmcj/.
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 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, 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, visitwww.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 or www.thecrimereport.org