About the Award:
We in the youth justice reform community are intimately aware of the complex reasons that lead youth to commit crimes, the deep inadequacy of how we as a society respond, and the role the justice system plays in perpetuating racism, trauma, and inequity. Unfortunately, media coverage too often focuses on sensationalized, individual stories without considering context or examining how policy choices perpetuate cycles of pain and injustice. The Story of Justice Media Award recognizes those journalists who have made it a priority to shine a light not just on the human tragedies that result from the justice system's manifold failures, but to ask the question, "Can't we do better?"
Jennifer Gonnerman, staff writer for The New Yorker and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is the author of the well-known 2014 story about Kaleif Browder, "Before the Law.” Browder was imprisoned on Riker’s Island for three years—mostly in solitary confinement—while awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack. Upon return home, Browder struggled to get his life in order and ultimately committed suicide. “Before the Law,” elevated to national attention the senseless brutality of our juvenile justice practices. Again and again, Ms. Gonnerman has brought to light the stories of those treated unfairly or inhumanely, and her unflinching commitment to exposing the human tragedy of youth lost in uncaring and damaging systems makes her a perfect exemplar of the kind of balanced and compassionate reporting we'd like to see more often. Ms. Gonnerman, a National Book Award finalist, has also won a Sidney Award from the Hillman Foundation, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, the Meyer Berger Award from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and eight Front Page Awards from the Newswomen's Club of New York.
Story of Justice Media Award
About the Award: