According to city data, 30 percent of New York City’s homeless shelter entrants have been incarcerated. According to a Justice Department survey, in 2008 and 2009 Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan had the highest inmate-reported rate of staff sexual abuse of any prison or jail in the country that participated in the research.
According to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), City Limits’ reporting on both stories was among the best examples in 2011 of reporting that was able to “skillfully bring home to us the critical issues that affect justice and safety in our nation.”
NCCD bestowed a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award on “Behind Bars,” the May 2011 investigative feature that looked at staff sexual misconduct in New York’s women’s prisons. Kelly Virella’s reporting found flaws in state policies for recording, investigating and punishing sexual abuse. Designer Anthony Smyrski and photographer Marc Fader share the honor.
Also snagging a PASS award was Jeanmarie Evelly’s story “Leaving Prison, Free … and Homeless”, which explored the unique challenges facing low-income ex-inmates trying to find housing in the city. Fader and Mark Anthony Thomas, City Limits director, are also named on the award.
Virella, a former City Limits deputy editor, is the founder and editor of Dominion of New York, a site featuring thoughtful coverage of political and cultural issues affecting black New Yorkers. Her reporting on prison sexual abuse already won praise from the 2012 John Jay College/H.F. Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards.
Evelly is City Limits’ solitary confinement in the city’s jails on Rikers Island.