The Innocence Network Journalism Award was created to honor investigative reporting that brings to life the process of identifying and exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals. This year's recipients willbe Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders of ProPublica for their "Busted" series about flawed roadside drug tests that have resulted in untold wrongful convictions across the country. Through thoroughly researched, investigative journalism, Mr. Gabrielson and Mr. Sanders make a convincing case that police reliance on roadside drug tests long-known to have been highly unreliable routinely force innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit, often with devastating lifelong consequences.Their reporting sheds light on the stark reality that tens of thousands of Americans are jailed each year based on these inaccurate field tests conducted by police. Following their series, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon overturned five wrongful convictions and the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission called for research and reforms to address the unreliable drug tests.
Ryan Gabrielson is a reporter for ProPublica covering the U.S. justice system. In 2013, his stories for the Center for Investigative Reporting on violent crimes at California’s board-and-care institutions for the developmentally disabled were a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Previously, he was a reporter at the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz. In 2009, he and Tribune colleague Paul Giblin won a Pulitzer Prize for stories that exposed how immigration enforcement by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office undermined investigations and emergency response. Gabrielson's work has received numerous national honors, including two George Polk Awards, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton, the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting, and a Sigma Delta Chi Award. He was a 2009-2010 investigative reporting fellow at UC Berkeley. A Phoenix native, Gabrielson studied journalism at the University of Arizona and now lives in Oakland with his wife and two daughters.