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2018 The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Small Newsroom finalist

A Broken System

About the Project

This project involved exposing facts of a corrupt criminal justice system in a poverty-stricken community, corruption tha tled to the wrongful conviction of a teenage who spent 23 years in custody. The project involved not just exposing the injustice to Lamonte McIntyre, but a system with widespread accusations of corruptiion:

Evidence of a corrupt cop who made the case; a prosecutor who hid exculpatory evidence; a judge who failed to disclose he had a prior affair with the prosecutor; and defense attorneys later disbarred for serial failures to properly represent their clients. It was, in other words, a case that showed everything that can go wrong, and the horrid impact on an innocent man.

Days after the articles appeared, a hearing began into McIntyre’s claims, including evidence first discovered in our reporting. On the second day of hearing, the county’s prosecutor came into court to announce he would not oppose the grant of a new trial, and that he then was dropping the charges.

Lamont McIntyre was freed within an hour; his lawyer has said publicly that Injustice Watch’s work played an important role, raising the community awareness of the injustice.

Undertaking the review in Kansas City, Kansas was a major commitment for Injustice Watch, a small nonprofit headquartered in Chicago; but it was precisely the kind of work that journalism needs to be doing these days.

We proudly submit this entry in the investigative reporting category.