Wednesday, April 10, 2013

USAT | Heath wins IRE medal for 'Locked Up'

Investigative Reporters and Editors has given one of its highest annual honors to USA Today's Brad Heath for work last year that led to the release of more than 30 federal prisoners found innocent of gun possession charges after they were imprisoned.

The Tom Renner Award was one of three medals announced today by the professional association, along with other journalism awards.

From the judges' comments on Heath's Locked Up project:

"Heath discovered dozens of men locked up on gun possession charges even though a federal appeals court had concluded they had done no federal crime. Using tips from lawyers, inmates and families, and sifting through thousands of pages of court documents, Heath showed the Justice Department knew the prisoners were innocent of the charges, but made no effort to identify or alert people whose convictions should have been invalidated. Many of the prisoners didn’t realize they were innocent until USA Today contacted them. He also found prosecutors were persuading courts to keep sex offenders in prison past the expiration of their sentences based on questionable psychological assessments. Heath’s dogged reporting exposed shortcomings in the criminal justice system and resulted in the release of at least 32 federal prisoners and the end of supervised release for 12 others. IRE commends Heath for digging for the truth to correct an unbelievable breakdown in the justice system."

Previously, Heath has been honored for work on prosecutorial misconduct, and for a series about industrial pollution near schools.

Related: more of Heath's USAT work.


  1. Congrats, Brad. You made a big difference at The Detroit News and now at USA Today. You are what journalism is all about.

  2. Way to go, Brad. I knew you way back when through NICAR.... Couldn't happen to a better guy.

  3. Kudos to Brad, USA TODAY and its investigative team!

  4. Nice going, Mr. Heath.

  5. ICYMI: Another Gannett property, the Tennessean, was a finalist in Investigations triggered by breaking news.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.