The Michael Kelly Award

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Carol Marbin Miller, Audra D.S. Burch



In a six-part series called “Fight Club,” Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch of the Miami Herald methodically revealed the rampant brutality, incompetence, and negligence in Florida’s juvenile justice system. They disclosed how guards would direct favored detainees to beat other detainees, then reward the enforcers with honey buns for the beatings. They showed how the state failed to perform background checks before hiring hundreds of guards to work in the juvenile facilities who had been dismissed from adult prisons for sexual misconduct and other offenses. The series forced the state to address the problems exposed by Marbin Miller and Burch. Background checks are now being performed. The state is appointing an ombudsman to investigate complaints of wrongdoing. And the state attorney’s office announced it would present the Herald’s findings to a grand jury.




Carol Marbin Miller, 58, is the senior investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, where she has written extensively for almost 20 years about child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, disabilities, and elders. She has been awarded the Goldsmith Prize, Selden Ring Award, Associated Press Managing Editors Award, Heywood Broun Award, and the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award, among others. The Florida Society of News Editors awarded Marbin Miller the Paul Hansell Award for Distinguished Achievement in Florida Journalism, and a series she co-wrote on assisted living facilities was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in public service. Marbin Miller graduated from Florida State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Stories written or co-written by Marbin Miller have resulted in the passage of several new state laws, including legislation that overhauled the state’s involuntary commitment law, reformed Florida’s child welfare system, outlawed patient brokering, curbed the use of psychiatric drugs among foster children, and banned military-style youth camps. In 2018, legislators approved a new law granting lawmakers, prosecutors, and public defenders the right to inspect juvenile justice facilities without warning.


Audra D.S. Burch, 52, is an award-winning national enterprise correspondent for The New York Times.  Before that, she was an enterprise and narrative writer at the Miami Herald before joining the Herald’s investigations team. As part of a two-person team, Burch worked on Innocents Lost, a project exploring failures in Florida’s child welfare system. The series won the 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Prize, and the Worth Bingham Prize.  At the Herald, Burch also covered ​​the American South, veteran and consumer issues, and pop culture. Burch began her career at the Gary Post-Tribune followed by a stint at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.




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At This Juvenile Justice Program, Staffers Set Up Fights – And Then Bet on Them

Criminal Record? Horrible Work History? Florida Juvenile Justice Would Still Hire You

Lockup Officers Groomed Him to Beat Up Other Teens, Mom Says. It Cost Him His Life.

They Were Stalkers, Sexters and Rapists – And Worked Safeguarding Florida Delinquents

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