Sun reporter Todd Richissin has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award's top prize in the domestic print category for his series on the failures of Maryland's highly acclaimed boot camps for juvenile delinquents.
The four-part series, which appeared in December, followed the lives of 14 of Maryland's toughest juvenile offenders as they went through the boot camps and then returned home on probation. Richissin and photographer Andre Chung documented how the juveniles were routinely beaten by guards, often while in handcuffs and leg shackles.
The series also documented the failure of the juvenile justice system to supervise the youths once they returned home. Eleven got into trouble within eight months of being released.
As a result of the series, Gov. Parris N. Glendening closed the camps and ousted the top juvenile justice officials, and the state police and FBI began investigations into the abuse.
"This was a classic example of public service reporting at its best," said William K. Marimow, Sun editor. "The stories identified with pinpoint precision a glaring problem in the state's juvenile justice system and provided the spark to ignite action by the Glendening administration."
Richissin will receive $1,000, which he plans to donate to charity.