Wide-ranging series on criminal justice in Mississippi and the South uncovers major systemic issues

Sherwood Brown has been exonerated of the charges that sent him to death row in Mississippi in 1995 for a triple murder he did not commit. On August 24, 2021, DeSoto County Circuit Court Judge Jimmy McClure granbted a prosecution motion to dismiss charges against Brown (pictured after his release), who was released later that day after having spent 26 years on the state’s death row or facing the prospects of a capital retrial. Christina Stewbe/Mississippi Innocence Project

A sweeping eight part-series, “Broken Justice,” by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, in collaboration with several universities and news organizations, outlines systemic failures in the criminal justice system. For one of the stories, supported with a grant from the Fund, students from five universities around the country investigated coroner systems nationwide. They found that coroners, who aren’t required to have medical training in most states, wield tremendous authority and are subject to almost no accountability. Other stories in the series examined junk science, politicization of state Supreme Court races in Mississippi, years-long backlogs in crime labs and more.