Fourth Annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards Announced

For Release:
April 13, 2000
Richard Dieter, 202/293-6970

Chicago Tribune's Groundbreaking Series on Illinois's Death Penalty
andFox TV's Investigative Reports on Texas to be Honored
by the Death Penalty Information Center

A groundbreaking series of articles entitled "The Failure of the Death Penalty in Illinois" by reporters Ken Armstrong and Steve Mills of the Chicago Tribune, and an outstanding investigative series on capital cases in Texas by Jeff Crilley of Fox 4 Television in Dallas are the winners of the Death Penalty Information Center's fourth annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards. The awards are presented for excellence in portraying and analyzing problems associated with capital punishment.

The award in the print journalism category will be presented to Ken Armstrong and Steve Mills, staff reporters for the Chicago Tribune. Their five-part series exposed serious flaws in Illinois's death penalty system and has been referred to often by Governor George Ryan, who recently called a halt to all executions in Illinois. The articles by Mills and Armstrong have been credited with the sea change of public opinion about capital punishment that is sweeping the country. As a result, death penalty reform and abolition legislation has been proposed in many states and on the federal level this year.

Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award 2000 Recipients
at Death Penalty Focus's Ninth Annual Awards Dinner

(left to right: Richard Dieter, DPIC Execuitve Director; actress Shelly Fabares; Judi Mariott,
Chicago Tribune; Jeff Crilley and Guy Hernandez, Fox 4, Dallas.)

The award in the broadcast media category will be given to Jeff Crilley of Fox 4 Television in Dallas, Texas, who reported on two disturbing cases in Texas. Employing balanced, in-depth interviews, and accompanied by the superb camera work of Guy Hernandez, Crilley looked at the mental illness of convicted murderer Larry Robison, who was executed in Texas this year. His work also delved into the case against Darlie Routier for the tragic murder of her two young children in Dallas. Routier was convicted and sentenced to death for the crimes, but much of the evidence is steeped in controversy. She remains on death row in Texas, which accounts for about one-third of all executions in the U.S.

This year's awards will be presented at Death Penalty Focus of California's Annual Awards Dinner on April 18th at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Warren Beatty, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter are the Co-chairs of this event honoring individuals who have made outstanding contributions to human rights.

The Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards are named in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice who believed that the death penalty would end once people understood how it works in practice. "The question with which we must deal," Justice Marshall wrote, "is not whether a substantial proportion of American citizens would today, if polled, opine that capital punishment is barbarously cruel, but whether they would find it to be so in light of all information presently available." The Marshall Awards are bestowed annually and are accompanied by a prize of $3,000 for each of the categories of print and broadcast journalism.

The distinguished judges for this year's Awards were Pulitzer Prize winning, columnist Jim Dwyer of the New York Daily News, and veteran writer, educator, and columnist Colman McCarthy, formerly with the Washington Post.

Among the previous winners of the Thurgood Marshall Awards were the producers of the television series The Practice, ABC-TV's Nightline, documentary film-maker Jonathan Stack, and writers for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Dallas Morning News, and the North Carolina Independent.

The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization which focuses its research on the problems of capital punishment in the United States. Entries for next year's awards must be published or produced in 2000, and should be submitted to the Death Penalty Information Center by January 31, 2001.

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