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Criminal Justice Challenges of Obama Administration Explored at John Jay Symposium

Times Herald and Seattle Post-Intelligencer Receive Criminal Justice Reporting Awards 

New York City, February 3, 2009 – The Fourth Annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America was held on February 2-3, 2009 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  In attendance were journalists, practitioners and academicians from across the United States, all discussing the recent and impending changes in criminal justice.

“This symposium has become a meeting place for people in criminal justice, a field that’s changing even as we speak,” said Stephen Handelman, Director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice, which organized the event, with funding from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. “This is an opportunity to examine criminal justice at a time when, I think everyone would agree, it is at a crossroads.”

Organized around the theme “A New Beginning? Exploring the Criminal Justice Challenges Over the Next Four Years,” the symposium explored some of the thorniest issues currently on the American agenda, as panelists discussed the nation’s distressed economy and its relationship to crime trends.

As part of the program, the Fourth Annual John Jay College Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards were presented to two print journalists in recognition of their crime reporting efforts.   The winners of this year’s awards are:

• In the individual article category, Christine Young of the Times Herald-Record, Middletown, NY for her article, “I Didn’t Do that Murder,” (published January 13, 2008) in which she examined the 1989 conviction of Lebrew Jones, who spent 20 years in prison on charges of murdering a Manhattan prostitute. As a result of her article, the Manhattan District Attorney has opened a new investigation into the case.

• In the series category, Eric Nalder and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative team for “The Strong Arm of the Law,” a multi-part series that ran in January and February 2008 and exposed Seattle police bias in obstruction arrests and the questionable handling of complaints against police over the wrongful use of force.

 “The Times Herald-Record and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stories were very important pieces of journalism – highlighting issues of critical importance to their community,” said President Travis.  “Reporting on criminal justice issues is one of the most serious responsibilities that American journalists have, and these award recipients show that newspapers, large and small, do take it seriously.”

Criminal Justice Reporting Awards are given out annually by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice to honor journalists whose reporting inform and enhance the public’s understanding of issues related to crime in America.  Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize.

During the two-day event (February 2-3), participants explored a myriad of criminal justice issues including:

• Crime Trends in America 2009: Crime and Urban Violence in a Distressed Economy

• Privacy, Civil Liberties And Homeland Security

• The Future Of Forensics

• The Sentencing And Corrections Challenge

Keynote speakers were Hon. Judith Kaye, retired Chief Justice of the State of New York and Steven Brill, Court TV Founder and CEO, Verified Identity Pass, Inc.

Forum Participants included:

• Terrence Carroll, Speaker-Designee, Colorado House of Representatives

• Colonel Dean Esserman, Chief of Providence Police Department, RI

• Honorable Nancy Gertner, U.S. District Judge, District of Massachusetts

• David Hagy, Director of the National Institute of Justice

• Eric Lichtbau, reporter, The New York Times

• Laurie Robinson, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General, member of the Obama transition team at the U.S. Department of Justice

• Richard Rosenfeld, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St Louis

• Mark Schoofs, reporter, Wall Street Journal

• John Timoney, Chief of the Miami Police Department

The symposium is being underwritten by a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.  The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, located in New York City, sponsors scholarly research on problems of violence, aggression, and dominance.  The foundation provides both research grants to established scholars and dissertation fellowships to graduate students during the dissertation-writing year.  The award is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute, a private operating and grant making foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform.


About the Center on the Media, Crime and Justice: The Center provides an array of resources for journalists, bringing them together with scholars and practitioners in support of high-quality journalism to help deepen public understanding of crime and justice issues.  It is a partnership of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York (CUNY), with the Institute for Justice and Journalism (IJJ) at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg School for Communication; Criminal Justice Journalists (CJJ), a national organization of reporters covering crime and justice; and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.  The Center was launched in July 2006 with the support of the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit