All Work. No Pay. – a Reveal investigation that uncovered a system of indentured servitude posing as drug rehabilitation – has earned top honors in the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual awards.
Reporters Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter received official news of the Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting today and will travel to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. next month to accept the award.
Judges described the project this way:
“A jaw-dropping investigation exposing modern-day prisoner servitude infused within our criminal justice system, propagated by corporate greed and political influence. Easy to read, concise and enthralling. Thorough reporting on the ground with a variety of voices. What’s more, is that the reporters continued to follow the story, which led them to even more shocking and egregious revelations, taking readers to the depths of a hidden system devoid of humanity, and leading to much needed reform.”
The work has received several other commendations, including being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize last week.
The investigation exposed a court-ordered rehab program where defendants, many never convicted of a crime, were sent to a work camp. There, they were forced to slaughter chickens and endure other hard labor for free, under the threat of prison. The beneficiaries included politicians and Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and Walmart.
After Harris and Walter published their first story in October, things started to change almost immediately: Government investigations were launched, companies stopped using the unpaid labor and four class-action status lawsuits alleging slavery and human trafficking were filed.