What we do
Committed to seeking the truth, our staff screens potential cases of innocence and responds to calls for help from prisoners. Students enrolled in the investigative journalism class at the Medill School of Journalism, which is supported by the Medill Justice Project, investigate cases over a 10-week period and publish their findings on this site.
Funding for the Project comes from a generous gift by the Alphawood Foundation and individual donors.
Alec Klein, Professor
Alec Klein, the director of The Medill Justice Project, is an award-winning investigative journalist, bestselling author and professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
For two decades, Klein worked as a newspaper reporter, including eight years as an investigative business reporter at The Washington Post until the summer of 2008 when he joined the Medill faculty. He previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun and The Virginian-Pilot. His investigations have led to significant reforms, congressional hearings, federal law, criminal convictions and more than half a billion dollars in government fines.
Alison Flowers, Research Associate
Alison Flowers joined The Medill Justice Project in 2011 after working as an on-air reporter for a CBS affiliate in Georgia. During her stint there, Flowers broke the story when an Innocence Project board member and forensic expert brought to light DNA evidence thought to have been destroyed in the “Columbus Stocking Stranglings” case. The revelation ultimately led to a stay in a death row inmate’s scheduled execution, resulting in the first-ever DNA tests in the more than 30-year-old case.
Flowers’ multimedia work has appeared nationally, including CNN, CBS and The Huffington Post. Flowers is also a Northwestern University alumna, having earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism in 2009. Her capstone project at Medill, “Those People,” a short documentary project about a man living with a mental illness, made the short list for the 37th Annual Student Academy Awards. Flowers is a member of KAPPA TAU ALPHA, a journalism honor society.
Who We Are
The Medill Justice Project, founded at Northwestern University in 1999, is an investigative journalism enterprise that examines potentially wrongful convictions, probes national systemic criminal-justice issues and conducts groundbreaking research. As journalists, we advocate only for the truth.
--Prof. Alec Klein, director of The Medill Justice Project
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U.S. Shaken-Baby Syndrome DatabaseTo access The Medill Justice Project’s national database on shaken-baby syndrome cases, please click U.S. Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database.
Medill Justice Project Wins IRE AwardIn April 2014, The Medill Justice Project won a national award from Investigative Reporters & Editors for our investigative journalism. We were honored for our in-depth investigative articles, national database and documentary on shaken-baby syndrome. The IRE Awards are given to the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year.
Medill Justice Project Wins SPJ Mark of Excellence AwardsIn April 2014, The Medill Justice Project won two regional SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards in “Online In-Depth Reporting” for our shaken-baby syndrome database stories and in “In-Depth Reporting” for our Iowa murder investigation. The Medill Justice Project was also a finalist in “Online News Reporting” for our spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome stories and in “Best Use of Multimedia” for our shaken-baby syndrome documentary. The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best in student journalism and first place regional winners advance to the national competition.
MEDILL JUSTICE PROJECT WINS FIRST PLACE IN NATIONAL JOURNALISM CONTEST
In August 2013, The Medill Justice Project won first place, newspaper project award, from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in its newspaper and online news division. The Medill Justice Project won the award for its ongoing investigative reporting--including articles, video, audio and photography--on shaken-baby syndrome. This award honors publications that students and professors created across the country in journalism classes or as special curricular projects connected to courses.
Medill Justice Project Wins Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism
Medill Justice Project Wins National Journalism AwardIn August 2012, the national Society of Professional Journalists honored the Medill Innocence Project, now called The Medill Justice Project, with the Sunshine Award for our investigation of Donald Watkins’ first-degree murder conviction. The Medill Innocence Project was recognized alongside two other recipients of the award, Bloomberg News and the Republican-American, a media outlet in Connecticut. The SPJ board of directors and Freedom of Information Committee honor people or organizations each year for their notable contributions to open government.
Medill Justice Project Announcements
In March 2014, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Chicago Chapter and the Chicago Headline Club named The Medill Justice Project a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award in “Online: Best Non-Deadline Reporting Online,” “Online: Best Investigative/Public Service Reporting” and “Online: Best Use of News Video” for our spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome.
In January 2014, the Associated Collegiate Press approved The Medill Justice Project to lead a session at the Midwinter National College Journalism Convention on how to create a journalism-based justice project at other universities.
In December 2013, Reporting on Health editor William Heisel selected a Medill Justice Project investigation on shaken-baby syndrome as one of the best health stories of 2013. Please view the post here: Reporting on Health.
In December 2013, a Medill Justice Project murder investigation was published as a two-part series in the Quad-City Times; please view it here: Quad-City Times.
In November 2013, doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect visited The Medill Justice Project to make a presentation on abusive head trauma that can be found at this link: Abusive Head Trauma.
In October 2013, the Center on Wrongful Convictions and The Medill Justice Project presented a screening of the true-crime documentary “Scenes of a Crime” and a Q&A with the filmmakers Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh who made a special appearance at the event.
In September 2013, the Online News Association and its academic partner, the School of Communication at the University of Miami, named The Medill Justice Project a finalist for a 2013 Online Journalism Award for our spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome.
In August 2013, the College Media Association's convention review committee approved The Medill Justice Project to conduct a session at this fall's National College Media Convention. The session will focus on how to create a journalism-based project at other universities.
In April 2013, a panel of Medill professors selected The Medill Justice Project’s published investigative articles and multimedia spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome to be featured at the Medill Student Showcase.
In April 2013, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) selected The Medill Justice Project to conduct a panel session on teaching journalism students how to investigate potentially wrongful convictions and teaching teachers how to teach such investigations. The session will be held in Washington, D.C., at the AEJMC’s annual conference.
In March 2013, the Alumnae of Northwestern University's Gifts and Grants Committee awarded The Medill Justice Project a generous grant to support our research on the creation of a national database on shaken-baby syndrome cases.
In March 2013, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Chicago Chapter and the Chicago Headline Club named The Medill Justice Project a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award for our spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome.
In 2012, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication recognized the Medill Innocence Project, now called The Medill Justice Project, with third place for the national Journalism Project Award for our Donald Watkins investigation.
In 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Chicago Chapter and the Chicago Headline Club named the Medill Innocence Project, now called The Medill Justice Project, a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award for our Donald Watkins investigation.
In 2012, a panel of Medill professors selected the published investigations of the Medill Innocence Project, now called The Medill Justice Project, of the Donald Watkins case to be featured in the Medill Student Showcase.
Shaken-Baby Syndrome: Perspectives on a Controversial Diagnosis
March 27, 2014: Illinois Attorney General Takes No Position on Del Prete’s Release from Prison: Prosecutors argue that imprisoned day care worker must await state proceedings before federal court weighs in
Feb. 19, 2014: Attorneys for Day Care Worker File Claim in Federal Court that Prosecutors Withheld Evidence: Key evidence in the claim involves a police letter that was discovered by a Medill Justice Project investigation of Del Prete’s case
Feb. 5, 2014: Defense Attorneys for Day Care Worker Plan to File Claim in Federal Court that Prosecutors Withheld Evidence: Attorneys will also request Del Prete be released from prison while awaiting court’s decision in shaken-baby syndrome case
Oct. 31, 2013: A Child Care Law That Never Developed: An Illinois act intended to educate parents on how to handle an infant’s cries led to silence of a different kind: a law that was never implemented
July 31, 2013: Illinois Attorney General Orders Release of Records from ’94 Case: Bartlett Police Department must disclose records after state attorney general’s office upholds Medill Justice Project’s Freedom of Information Act appeal
March 19, 2013: The Jennifer Del Prete Case: How a Murder Case Hinged on Expert Witnesses: Medill Justice Project investigation of shaken-baby syndrome case raises questions about the role of expert testimony
Reader FeedbackComments on stories and letters to the editor are welcome. They are edited for clarity and sometimes shortened for space. Opinions expressed are the reader’s own.
MissionThe Medill Justice Project supports the research of Northwestern University journalism classes on investigative reporting in which students look into cases that potentially involve miscarriages of justice, with priority given to murder cases and with a commitment to transparency and publication.
IntegrityAs members of the Medill community, all of our academic, professional, media, journalism and marketing communications work must meet the standards of the Medill Integrity code. This code commits us to honesty and fairness, as well as avoiding and identifying conflicts of interest.
[Read the full Medill Integrity Code]
You may republish our investigative stories so long as you follow these rules:
1. You can’t edit our material.
2. You have to link to us and include all of the links from our story.
3. You can’t sell our material.
4. You need to select stories to be republished individually; you may not copy our site in full.
5. You cannot republish our photographs without specific permission.
6. You have to credit us in the byline.
To request a condensed version of our articles, please contact us at 847-491-5840 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Publications by The Medill Justice Project
Press Releases from The Medill Justice Project
Press About The Medill Justice Project
The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University highlights the IRE Award won by The Medill Justice Project for its spotlight on shaken-baby syndrome series. Read the full story here.
James Ross Gardner features a Washington state shaken-baby syndrome case and uses The Medill Justice Project’s database to discover the number of shaken-baby syndrome cases in the state in his story about questions surrounding the diagnosis. Read the full story here.
Reporter Matt Stroud cites The Medill Justice Project’s shaken-baby syndrome research in his story that explores the validity of shaken-baby syndrome diagnoses and convictions. Read the full story here.
DePaul University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer writes about the lack of DNA evidence in recent exonerations and highlights the now more common question of whether a crime was even committed, using shaken-baby syndrome cases as an example. Read the full story here.
Staff writer Vince Mancuso reports on The Medill Justice Project’s finding that Sarpy County, Neb., has the highest rate of shaken-baby syndrome cases in the country. Read the full story here.