2022 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom finalist

The Marshall Project

About the Project

The Marshall Project is a nonprofit news organization focused on covering the criminal justice and immigration systems. We publish deeply reported investigations, explanatory and contextual pieces, narratives and profiles that put a human face on criminal justice, along with guest commentary and first-person essays from those who’ve worked or lived in these systems. We establish facts, expose failures, and examine possible solutions for a justice system in crisis.

Most importantly, our investigations have shed light on the state of our criminal justice system today. Over the past 12 months we exposed terrible conditions at a juvenile lockup in Louisiana, where vulnerable youth, including boys with serious mental illness, were treated like violent criminals, given little more than meals slid through slots in their doors. The conditions they documented were so harsh that one expert said the facility’s operations amounted to “child abuse.” And in another investigation we shone a light on a new maximum security prison in rural Illinois, that was meant to make all federal prisons safer by relieving dangerous overcrowding. Instead we found that the prison had become deadly—beyond the threat from other prisoners, numerous men reported that they faced frequent abuse at the hands of staff. Many described being shackled in cuffs so tight they left scars, or being “four-pointed” and chained by each limb to a bed for hours, forced to lie in their own waste. “It’s really akin to a torture chamber,” one attorney told us.

In another ground-breaking, year-long investigation with local partners in Cleveland we uncovered the inner workings of the historically opaque Cuyahoga County Justice system. Our data team extracted and analyzed nearly 70,000 records from the court’s docket to understand how systemic unfairness of the Cuyahoga court system stacks up—including arrests and charging decisions, access to bail, plea bargains, and sentencing.

Our gorgeously-written feature on Texas Ranger James Holland, looked at the darker side of the the most famous homicide investigators in the country. We examined his career and tactics, including the psychology of false confessions and the instability of memory.

Finally, we continued to expand News Inside, our print magazine designed for incarcerated readers, We introduced new features to help our incarcerated readers navigate different aspects of life behind bars from the unique knowledge and expertise of our readers. Our first request asked readers to send in their “food hacks” — describing meals they had created using commissary food and approved items. Over 2,000 incarcerated people responded when we asked them to share recipes, with answers like “Chip Flavor Ramen Pizza.”