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2021 Brechner Freedom of Information Center Award Winner
April 12, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
with Reuters news service
April 12th from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award is an annual $3,000 cash award, sponsored by The Brechner Center. The award recognizes excellence in reporting about freedom of information, access to government-held information, or the First Amendment.
A spokesperson from this year’s winner, Reuters new service, will be our speaker for April.
From the Brechner News announcement:
“For a series of investigative news stories exposing the enormity of preventable deaths in county jails across the United States attributable to suicides or medical conditions, a team of reporters from the Reuters news service is the winner of the annual Brechner Freedom of Information Award for investigative reporting.
For a series of stories published throughout 2020, “Dying Inside,” Reuters reporters filed more than 1,500 state freedom-of-information requests to gather the records behind 7,571 deaths in county lockups between 2008 and 2019. They found that the vast majority of those who died were not serving sentences after conviction, but were merely being held in custody waiting for their trial dates, often because they could not afford bail. “The toll of jail inmates who die without a case resolution subverts a fundamental tenet of the U.S. criminal justice system: innocent until proven guilty,” the reporting team wrote.
Reuters reporters documented that the death rate is statistically greater in jails with privatized medical care supplied by outside contractors, raising questions about whether corners are being cut in the pursuit of profit. The team’s data reporting was augmented by interviews with grieving family members across the country, recounting how their loved ones failed to receive attention for life-threatening mental health problems while in custody.”
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