The award, which honors outstanding achievements in electronic journalism, was granted to the CWC and BGA for a 2011 investigation, “The High Cost of Wrongful Convictions,” which exposed the human and financial toll of alleged government and police misconduct that led to 85 people being wrongfully incarcerated for violent crimes they did not commit. Released in July 2011, the investigation found that wrongful convictions cost Illinois taxpayers $214 million in recent years and kept innocent men and women behind bars for 926 years. While the BGA/CWC study revealed that almost all of the wrongful convictions were caused by multiple factors, the most common cause was alleged government error and misconduct by police, prosecutors, and forensic officials.
The "High Costs of Wrongful Convictions" was co-written by Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, and John Conroy, a former BGA senior investigator.
The BGA and CWC won the Murrow regional award for website coverage in the Online News Operation category for Region 7, which included awards to major TV, radio, and Internet news operations throughout the Midwest.
Part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law, the Center on Wrongful Convictions is the nation's leading advocacy and research organization dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other serious miscarriages of justice. Center faculty, staff, cooperating outside attorneys, and Bluhm Legal Clinic students investigate possible wrongful convictions and represent imprisoned clients with claims of actual innocence.