Maine Monitor journalists have won three more awards, with Samantha Hogan receiving an investigative reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists and Derrick Z. Jackson earning two photography awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Hogan’s reporting on Maine jails that recorded private attorney-client calls is among five projects that earned the Sunshine Award accolade.
The Sunshine Award recognizes individuals and groups for making important contributions in the area of open government.
Hogan’s series revealed that six Maine county jails recorded nearly 1,000 private attorney-client calls in a single year and some of the recordings were shared with police and prosecutors before trial.
In response to the series, lawmakers passed a bill requiring county jails to maintain a registry of attorney contact information and disqualifying investigators who listen to private jail phone calls. The legislation directs prosecutors to adopt statewide procedures to ensure confidentiality by January 2024.
Hogan made more than 100 public records requests to county sheriff’s offices and jails for call data, policies, inmate handbooks and emails and conducted three dozen interviews with attorneys, defendants, sheriffs and the former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court.
County sheriffs were reluctant to release data that would show how many times their jail’s phone system had illegally recorded attorney-client calls. Hogan pursued the release of this data, and The Maine Monitor made the data public online through a searchable database.
Earlier this month, a Superior Court justice declared that documents showing whether the York County Jail recorded private attorney-client phone calls are public records, handing a victory to The Maine Monitor after a two-year legal fight.
Other Sunshine winners this year include a ProPublica investigation into “911 call analysis”; a ProPublica and Texas Tribune investigation documenting military injustice; City Bureau for its website that collects public meeting data across disparate government websites; and a group of journalists from The Texas Tribune, ProPublica, The Marshall Project and Military Times for an investigation on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border initiative.
Jackson, meanwhile, won first place for action photography and the President’s Choice Award for Photography in the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s Excellence in Craft awards.
The award-winning photo appeared in his September 2022 story Seabirds are on the rise on islands off Maine’s coast.
The story, and Jackson’s photos, detailed how a rapid resurgence of seabirds in 2022 had research teams ecstatic.
An international, nonprofit organization, the Outdoor Writers Association of America represents a diverse group of professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience.
The Monitor published a Derrick Jackson story updating readers on the puffins in late August.