2019 Hechinger Prize and Public Service (Larger Staff) Winner

Jennifer Smith Richards | Chicago Tribune and Jodi S. Cohen and Lakeidra Chavis | ProPublica Illinois

About the Entry

This ambitious collaboration between the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois investigated the use of seclusion in Illinois schools. Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen discovered violations of state law as well as emotional and physical trauma inflicted on students who were shut alone in small rooms for long periods.

Comments from the Judges

“The Quiet Rooms is a model of public service journalism. It recounts heartbreaking stories of abuse and maximizes their impact through moving (both figuratively and literally) photography.”

“A breathtaking and heartbreaking series of stories with comprehensive data analysis, clear writing, and visuals that force readers to confront the suffering these children go through…This series provides an immense and nearly immediate public service for the wellbeing of children in Illinois and other states.”