2015 Investigative Reporting for Print/Online (Medium Staff) Finalists: The Center for Public Integrity, Reveal Radio

The Center for Public Integrity and Reveal Radio Staffs

“Criminalizing Kids” scrutinizes the use of law enforcement and courts to respond to students’ conduct at school.

Comments from the Judges:

“With the help of compelling statistics compiled by her colleague Ben Wieder and powerful anecdotes collected on her own, reporter Susan Ferriss describes a school disciplinary system run amok. Her reporting exposed potentially life-changing consequences for children caught up in the justice system for offenses that, she observed, might be considered “horseplay” outside the presence of a sworn officer. … [T]he data analyzed by Wieder and the convincing interviews by Ferriss combine in a highly readable piece that captures the absurdity — and the unfortunate consequence — of holding children to the standard of adult behavior. The reporting gets to the core issue: schools are deploying sworn officers without clear direction, despite federal recommendations.”

“The impression one is left with is of a system that functions in the interest of its adult members, who are loath to question the disproportionality of their outcomes. These pieces present a strong and compelling argument for a wholesale rethinking of the role of the school resource officer. The writer and her editors deserve praise for their willingness to ensure that each piece contains enough context that new readers will understand the gravity.”