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LA Times’ Robert Greene receives Pulitzer Prize

Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times received the Pulitzer Prize on Friday for a series of editorials that advanced the cause of criminal justice reform, a year in which the topic rose to the top of the political agenda in a big way. part of the United States.

The Pulitzers graced an extraordinary year of news in 2020, with awards given for coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial calculation of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed.

In addition to Greene, the Times’ Brittny Mejia and Jack Dolan were named Pulitzer finalists in the local reporting category for an investigation of the Los Angeles County medical system, and Mark Swed was a finalist for his music review.

Greene and The Times won the editorial writing category for articles that its editors said provided “insight, precision and clarity” on thorny issues such as bail reform, sentences justice system and the plight of prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 62-year-old writer culminated 2020 with a stern assessment of the nation’s substantial shortcomings during a year of plague and brutality, ending with a clear call for America to do better.

“A clearer view of ourselves and the chasm between who we are and what we aspire to be is necessary for any improvement,” the December 30 editorial said. “If we can name our shortcomings, we can certainly correct them. “

Like all seven papers submitted for the award, the essay was published under the signature of “The Times Editorial Board”. The Greene Prize was The Times 48th Pulitzer Prize since 1942, including six gold medals for public service.

The Times journalists were Pulitzer finalists in two other categories:

Dolan and Mejia have been recognized in local reports for a series of stories showing how patients waiting to see specialists at public hospitals in Los Angeles County suffered long and sometimes fatal delays. Even doctors whose care could mean the difference between life and death sometimes left patients waiting for months.

A nearly two-year investigation revealed how patients in a sprawling public health system, which serves the poorest and most vulnerable residents, often had to wait months to see neurologists, kidney specialists, cardiologists and other doctors. Many did not survive the delays.

Swed was named in the critical category for his “How to Listen” series, which enlightened readers on how he and they can find strength and comfort in music recordings during the pandemic.

Jack Dolan is an investigative reporter for the Times.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

With the concert halls silenced, the editors said the Times classical music critic explored “music as a message, as a feeling, as a faith and – and a virus has isolated individuals from within. home for months – music as a connection ”.

The prestigious public service award went to the New York Times for its “courageous” and “broad” coverage of the spread of the coronavirus.

Before becoming a journalist, Greene worked as a lawyer in Los Angeles. He came to The Times after stints as an editor for LA Weekly and a reporter and associate editor for the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

LA Times’ Robert Greene receives Pulitzer Prize

Brittny Mejia is a Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

He has written on topics as diverse as water, drought and mental health, with a focus on the criminal justice system for the past decade. He’s been with The Times for 15 years, barely slowing down after being diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010 from which he fully recovered.

In mid-March last year, Greene was among the first journalists to warn of the potential health catastrophe in prisons and prisons, where inmates could not observe safety precautions during the coronavirus crisis. .

LA Times’ Robert Greene receives Pulitzer Prize

Mark Swed has been the Los Angeles Times classical music critic since 1996.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

He called for the early release of many elderly, non-violent and short-lived prisoners, saying this would help protect not only them but also those they could inevitably infect once they leave their prisons.

For Greene, the pandemic presented an opportunity to assess the broader loopholes of mass incarceration. “When the crisis subsides and we collect our collective breath, we can ask ourselves why we are locking up so many suspects, defendants and convicts in the first place,” the editorial said, “and if they should all be behind bars for us to be sure. “

A June editorial lamented America’s failure to learn lessons from an earlier crisis – the crack epidemic of the 1980s. The decision of voters and lawmakers to treat drug addicts like criminals rather than criminals. drug addicts “has led directly to the nation we inhabit now, overcome with serious illness, fear, anger, mutual mistrust and a level of inequity and incompetence that pokes fun at ourselves.” picture as Americans.

Going forward, Greene urged the country to “build a system of care that promotes health and justice, and deconstruct the expensive police and prison infrastructure that we stupidly built instead.”

Greene echoed the US Supreme Court and its position that judges should be able to lock up certain minors, without parole, by determining which of the offenders suffered from “permanent incorrigibility”.

This idea that fallible humans could predict the future trajectory of largely untrained youth seemed to the writer to rely more on superstition and fear than on science or rationality, the writer argued.

“They symbolize the popular belief that we can know a man’s full measure solely on the basis of his reckless actions as a teenager,” Greene wrote, “or the concomitant belief that some young people are super predators, essentially subhuman and unable to live in civilized society.

Greene’s editors, led by Sewell Chan, editor of the Times editorial pages, praised him for his cold rationality and rejection of intemperate ideology.

Greene is the author of The Times support for George Gascón, the leftist candidate who would be elected Los Angeles County District Attorney. He also wrote an op-ed that launched a passionate plea for an end to the violence, after two sheriff’s deputies were ambushed at an LA subway station in Compton.

“The nation, which desperately needs composure and the end of a season of death, must for the moment make its way without either of the two,” he wrote. “We have in our hands the power to destroy ourselves and one another, and we seem determined to exercise it.”

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