Seventh Annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards Announced

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 Brenda Bowser
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DPIC Honors Liz Garbus of Moxie Firecracker Films, Home Box Office, and the York Daily Record for excellence in coverage of capital punishment

 WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Execution of Wanda Jean," an HBO documentary directed by Liz Garbus of Moxie Firecracker Films, and a series of news articles by the staff of the York Daily Record, including extensive coverage of the release of Pennsylvania native Ray Krone from Arizona's death row, will receive honors during the Death Penalty Information Center's (DPIC) Seventh Annual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The program will also feature keynote remarks from renowned author Scott Turow, whose award-winning books have sold millions of copies around the world.

"DPIC is honored to recognize these outstanding journalists for their significant contributions in educating the public about capital punishment," said Richard Dieter, DPIC Executive Director. "Their work has shed new light on an issue which had been obscured by political rhetoric and polarization for years."

This year's Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award recipients will be introduced by Ray Krone, the nation's 100th death row exoneree, and Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Justice Department news correspondent for National Public Radio.

Garbus and Home Box Office Vice President Nancy Abraham will accept the award for excellence in television broadcast journalism for the documentary "The Execution of Wanda Jean." This documentary film chronicles the life-and-death battle of Wanda Jean Allen in the weeks leading up to her execution on Oklahoma's death row. By telling one woman's story, the film explores one of the nation's most controversial moral and political dilemmas: the death penalty. The documentary examines the roles that poverty, mental health, race, geography, and sexuality play within the criminal justice system. Wanda Jean Allen had borderline mental retardation and brain damage. The film captures her final weeks as her legal team exhausts every option to save her life, and it also tells the story of the victim's family, many of whom did not support her execution. On January 11, 2001, the State of Oklahoma executed Wanda Jean Allen, the first black woman to be put to death in the United States in the modern era.

The news staff of the York Daily Record will receive the Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award for excellence in print journalism. Through its outstanding coverage of Pennsylvania native Ray Krone's exoneration, the York Daily Record continued a tradition of dogged determination to provide a fair and accurate picture of capital punishment. In their coverage of the Krone case, the paper's staff was the first to interview retired Judge James McDougall, the judge who presided over Krone's second trial and sentenced him to life in prison. McDougall told the Daily Record that he had long been haunted by the jury's guilty verdict and he wanted to tell Krone that he was sorry. Prior to the Krone articles, the paper completed an extensive case review of York County inmates on Pennsylvania's death row. One of the news reviews contributed toward the state granting its oldest death row inmate, James Carpenter, a new sentencing hearing. During the hearing, Carpenter was resentenced to life.

The Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards are named in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice who believed that people would see the death penalty in a new light once they 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 in the categories of print and broadcast journalism.

The distinguished judges for this year's Awards were Stacy Abramson of WNYC, Paul Begala of CNN, and Colman McCarthy, veteran educator and former writer for The Washington

Among the previous winners of the Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards are the producers of the television series "The Practice," ABC-TV's "Nightline," documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack, and writers for The Tennessean, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, and the North Carolina Independent.

Entries for next year's awards must be published or produced in 2003, and should be submitted to the Death Penalty Information Center by January 31, 2004.