Also: Virginia's history of racism, journey of two scientists

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A round-up of reporting from our grantees, upcoming events, and news from the Pulitzer Center

In North Carolina, a Formerly Incarcerated Mother Leads the Fight for Reforms

Kristie Puckett-Williams manages the Campaign for Smart Justice in North Carolina, an ACLU initiative aimed at barring by law the use of leg and wrist shackles on incarcerated women who are in the second and third trimester of pregnancy and requiring that pregnant incarcerated women get access to prenatal, labor, and delivery care. 

You might find it hard to believe that pregnant women would be treated that way. Puckett-Williams knows it from her own experience, incarcerated in a Charlotte jail a decade ago when she was pregnant with twins. She also knows the odds were stacked against her when she got out of jail—and what it took to keep her family intact and get the education she needed to become the leader for reform that she is today.

Grantee Ashley Mahoney tells Puckett-Williams’ story in The Charlotte Post. She also shares the appalling scale of the challenges in helping formerly incarcerated people build productive lives. She cites a 2019 study by the Prison Policy Initiative: 81,000 individuals are released from prison each year, it says, and a staggering 1.8 million from local jails.

Meaningful programs to help with re-entry fall far short of the need. One of the more successful of them, A New Way of Life Reentry Project in California, is the work of formerly incarcerated Susan Burton. She describes her experience in a wonderful Pulitzer webinar with TIME for Kids Executive Editor Jaime Joyce.  

Grantee Meera Santhanam, our Justice Reporting Fellow from the University of Chicago, reports that in prison justice circles there is a growing emphasis on abolition, not just reform, of the entire system of mass incarceration. She writes about Tricia Rojo Bushnell, head of the Midwest Innocence Project and president of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of more than 60 independent innocence organizations dedicated to freeing the wrongfully convicted. The innocence work is important and urgent, Rojo Bushnell suggests, but it won’t fix the deeper systemic challenges of the prison culture the country has built.

In the next several months we’ll be addressing many of these issues through the End of Isolation Tour, the performances in five cities of grantee Sarah Shourd’s play The BOX, a searing exposé on how solitary confinement has become an essential—and unjust—tool in keeping jails and prisons under control. On our events listing you’ll find out how to join us on the tour—and how to help us bring this work to even more communities next year.

All Best,

Jon Sawyer
Executive Director

Photo: Kristie Puckett-Williams turned her life around after being incarcerated in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Image by Steve Remich. United States.
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The Pulitzer Center-supported project How Do We Survive, Mission Local’s community-oriented reporting on undocumented residents’ survival amid the pandemic, won the 2021 Apex Award of Excellence in the COVID-19 Media - Newspaper/Magazine category. Mission Local recently published its second Pulitzer Center project, Report Card, on student experiences of remote learning with the help of local students who contributed to the project.


Network Journalism in Environmental Reporting

August 5, 11:00am HKT


China Can Lock Up A Million Muslims In Xinjiang At Once
Megha Rajagopalan and Alison Killing

The Fight For Cabo Delgado: A Hidden War Over Mozambique’s Natural Resources
Neha Wadekar and Ed Ram

Land Use Bill, Other Measures Protecting Forests Stuck in Cynthia Villar’s Senate Committee
Karol Ilagan and Martha Teodoro 

PBS NewsHour
Dissidents Are Fleeing Belarus After Lukashenko’s Crackdown On Protesters
Simon Ostrovsky 

Pulitzer Center
Virginia’s History of Racism Lives On in Richmond Public Schools
Jamaija Rhoades

Pulitzer Center
From the Philippines to the U.S.: A Journey of Two Scientists
Precious Castillo

Pulitzer Center
Criminal Justice or Criminal Injustice? The Power of Language
Meera Santhanam 

Pulitzer Center
Empty Houses in Nuevo Laredo
Pamela De La Cruz

Pulitzer Center
Meet the Members of 'The 1619 Project' Education Network
Donnalie Wilson

Pulitzer Center
Respected Rainforest Journalism Fund Adviser Wins Cabot Prize
Katherine Jossi 

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