Jaeah Lee, an award-winning independent journalist and contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, will discuss her Dori J. Maynard Justice award-winning piece, “This Rap Song Helped Sentence a 17-Year-Old to Prison for Life,” at Marquette University’s annual Burleigh Media Ethics Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 4 p.m., at the Alumni Memorial Union.
“This Rap Song Helped Sentence a 17-Year-Old to Prison for Life,” according to a press release from Marquette University, is Lee’s unique, ground-up investigation that showed how prosecutors increasingly are winning convictions and long prison terms, even with little other proof, by getting evidence before juries that links defendants to rap music and lyrics in what legal scholars call “racialized character evidence.” The report relied on a 230-person database that took more than two years to build, analysis of that data and research by legal scholars to show how prosecutors — with the countenance of judges — are evading rules of evidence that are supposed to keep such bias out of the courtroom. The work helped spur legislation in California, New York and Congress to limit the use of such evidence.
Lee’s stories often grapple with inequity, the aftermath of violence and the impact of the criminal legal system in everyday lives. In 2018, she was awarded the American Mosaic Journalism Prize for excellence in longform, narrative or deep reporting on underrepresented communities in the United States.
The public lecture is hosted by the Diederich College of Communication and the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism. To register, click here.