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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Mother Jones Magazine Win 2012 John Jay College/H.F. Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards

New York, NY, January 17, 2012 – Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, today announced that Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Trevor Aaronson of Mother Jones magazine are the winners of the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim 2012 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards.

"The Mother Jones and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories were very impressive pieces of investigative journalism that drew attention to issues of critical importance in criminal justice," said President Travis. "We are proud to recognize the winners' contributions to the national dialogue on these issues."

The awards presentation will take place on February 6th at an awards dinner in New York City, held in conjunction with the 7th annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium: The Problem That Won't Go Away: How Drugs, Race and Politics Distort US Criminal Justice, hosted by John Jay's Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ).

Trevor Aaronson of Mother Jones magazine won the 2012 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (single-story category) for his investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 15,000 nationwide informants charged with spying on Muslim-American communities. During a one–year reporting journey in partnership with the Lowell Bergman's Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, Aaronson found that the FBI is infiltrating Muslim communities and drawing people into "terrorist plots" that are actually conceived and financed by the FBI. The previously unreported story received national attention.

One of our judges said the Mother Jones investigation "helps renew my faith in the future of investigative journalism." The judge called it "a critically serious subject packaged and presented as a smooth, suspenseful read—I hope we see more partnerships like the one that yielded this."

Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel won the 2012 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award (series category) for "Both Sides of the Law," a multi-part series about lawbreakers on the Milwaukee police force. During an investigation that spanned over two years, Barton found 93 officers on the force—from street cop to captain—had been disciplined by the department for violating the laws and ordinances they were sworn to uphold.

Runner-up in the single-entry category was awarded to Kelly Virella of City Limits Investigates for "Behind Bars: Love, Sex, Rape and New York's Women Prisoners," which investigated intimacy between prisoners and correction officers in New York State. Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle of the McClatchy Newspapers Washington bureau, were runners-up in the series category for "Military Injustice," which revealed troubling flaws in the military justice system.

"We're proud once again to honor the best in criminal justice reporting this year," said CMCJ Director Stephen Handelman. "The impressive variety of entries submitted to our judges attest to the continuing importance of journalism's watchdog role in a fast-changing and complex criminal justice system."

This year's Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards, presented annually by the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice, recognizes work published between November 2010 and October 2011. Established to honor journalists whose reporting informs and enhances the public's understanding of issues related to crime in America, the awards are open to U.S.-based print and online journalists. The prize comes with a cash award of $1,000 in each category and a plaque. Runners-up receive a certificate of Honorable Mention.

The distinguished panel of five judges for the 2012 awards included: Alexa Capeloto, assistant professor of journalism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Enterprise Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune; Joe Domanick, veteran Los Angeles-based crime author and reporter and associate director at the CMCJ; Ted Gest, president, Criminal Justice Journalists; Jordan Smith, reporter for the Austin Chronicle and 2009 John Jay Prize Winner; and Mansfield Frazier, a contributing columnist for The Crime Report, Newsweek/Daily Beast and Cool Cleveland.

The award is supported by a grant from the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, a private grant-making foundation that aims to shape and support research on violence, aggression, and dominance. The winning entries will be posted on the John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice web site,

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 15,000 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

The Center on Media, Crime and Justice, established at John Jay College in 2006, is the nation's only practice- and research-oriented think tank devoted to encouraging and developing high-quality reporting on criminal justice, and to promoting better-informed public debate on the complex 21st century challenges of law enforcement, public security and justice in a globalized urban society. For more information, visit or

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation 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. For more information, visit

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