The Miami Herald’s investigative team project on harsh treatment of youths in Florida’s juvenile justice system has been named a finalist for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, one of the country’s top journalism awards.
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School announced the finalists Wednesday.
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Written by Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch, “Fight Club: Dark Secrets of Florida’s Juvenile Justice System” documented beatings, cover-ups, sexual exploitation and medical neglect in the state’s juvenile justice facilities.
The project was undertaken after a group of a dozen detainees at the Miami-Dade juvenile lockup pounced on a 17-year-old foster child, Elord Revolte, in August 2015, beating him mercilessly. He died the next day. Two youths said the attack was instigated by a staff member. No one was charged.
As a result of the Herald’s investigation, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice overhauled its hiring practices and created an Office of Youth and Family Advocacy to investigate complaints.
Additionally, the findings are being presented to the Miami-Dade grand jury and a comprehensive reform bill recently cleared a key legislative committee.
Marbin Miller and Burch partnered with visual journalist Emily Michot and the Herald’s digital team. They received funding from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism and the Fund for Reporting on Child Well-being.
The other five finalists are: Asbury Park Press, for exposing the hazardous living conditions in New Jersey’s government-supported housing; BuzzFeed News, which investigated a Chicago detective accused of framing more than 50 people for murder; NPR and ProPublica, for revealing how the United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world; STAT and the Boston Globe, for exposing fraud in the addiction treatment industry; and The Washington Post, for examining Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links between the Trump campaign and Kremlin agents.
The New York Times received a special citation for its investigation into sexual harassment, bringing powerful men to account, including Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.
“It’s an honor to be among such incredible company,” said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, vice president and executive editor of the Herald.
The winner will be announced March 6 at the Kennedy School. The prize carries a $10,000 award for finalists and $25,000 for the winner.
Marbin Miller and Burch won the 2015 Goldsmith Prize for “Innocents Lost,’’ which investigated child deaths in the state of Florida.