Our Prison System Under New Scrutiny

Following the Pulitzer prize victories of organizations like Inside Climate News and Pro Publica, non profits are growing in acclaim and credibility as journalistic organizations. The latest addition to this trend is the recent founding of The Marshall Project, a new site dedicated solely to reporting and investigating the criminal justice system.

In February, they announced the hiring of former New York Times columnist and editor in chief, Bill Keller, who won 18 Pulitzers during his tenure at the Times.

The Marshall project will cover sentencing reforms, prosecutorial misconduct, and the war on drugs. The focus of the site is rich. As is well known, the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. “From spiraling costs, to controversial drug laws, to prison violence, to concerns about systemic racial bias, there is a growing bipartisan consensus that America’s criminal justice system is in dire need of reform.” The project will also be a hub for information and debate on the legal and corrections system.

While long overdue, the time is ripe for this kind of coverage. States are beginning to rethink mandatory sentencing laws, marijuana is being decriminalized, and the prison populations nationwide are starting to decline. U.S. attorney General eric Holder has proposed sweeping changes to mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenses. Television shows like “The Wire”, “Oz” and “Orange is the New Black” have stoked awareness as to the unevenness, injustice and hypocrisy of the current system, as well as the need for reforms.

The site will produce both short and long investigations that will be made available on the web and through existing newspapers and magazines.