Collier Prize for State Government Accountability

2023 Winner: The Los Angeles Times

A series about failures by the State Bar of California to regulate and enforce the integrity of lawyers in the state earned the Los Angeles Times the 2023 Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The winning series from reporters Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton documented shortcomings in the Bar’s regulation of lawyers in a two-year investigation that culminated last year. The stories demonstrated the many ways that feeble, and at times non-existent, regulation had enabled the exploitation of the vulnerable and the corruption of the court system by wealthy and powerful lawyers.

Second place was awarded to the Miami Herald for an exposé by reporters Sarah Blaskey, Ana Ceballos, Mary Ellen Klas, Carl Juste and Nicholas Nehamas uncovering details of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to fly 49 South American asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard as part of what he described as a political statement about immigration enforcement.

Third place was awarded to The Marshall Project, NBC News and ProPublica for exposing abusive conditions inside a Louisiana state facility for juvenile offenders that were considered troublemakers. The investigation by Beth Schwartzapfel and Celina Fang of The Marshall Project, Erin Einhorn of NBC News, and Annie Waldman of ProPublica, documented the mistreatment of teens and demonstrated that this harsh approach to confinement was ineffective.

The story, published in March 2022, brought the conditions at the facility into the open, triggering an immediate debate about solitary confinement for youth in Louisiana. Ultimately, the state juvenile justice director threw his support behind a bill that would limit the use of solitary confinement in Louisiana’s juvenile facilities, which won overwhelming support in the Louisiana House and Senate.


2022 Winner: The Miami Herald and Pro Publica

A five-part series on a Florida government program that failed to aid families of children who suffered catastrophic brain injuries at birth earned the Miami Herald and ProPublica the 2022 Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The winning series, “Birth & Betrayal,” investigated a Florida program, created by the state legislature to protect OB-GYNS from huge malpractice bills, which deprives families of their right to sue in the event of a birth gone wrong. It provides a one-time payment and promises to cover lifetime medical expenses. Some hard-pressed parents report a bureaucratic nightmare that has been anything but supportive. Days after the Herald and ProPublica series was published, the Legislature unanimously passed a sweeping reform of the 33-year-old program.

Second place was awarded to the Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer for its five-part series, “Death In the Fastlane.” The Observer investigated extreme speeding by drivers on North Carolina highways that claimed the lives of more than 1,800 people in the state over the past five years, playing an even bigger role in the highway carnage than alcohol. The investigation uncovered lax treatment of speeders by judges, repeat offenders and a lack of enforcement by police.

Third place was awarded to ProPublica for “Welfare States,” an investigative series that found that Southwestern states have, for years, been declining to spend billions in federal welfare funding meant to go to poor families. The investigation coincided with the 25th anniversary of welfare reform and a debate in Congress over the fate of cash assistance in the form of the new child tax credit.


2021 Winner: The Marshall Project and Mississippi Today
The Collier Prize for State Government Accountability

A five-part series taking readers inside America’s most dangerous penal system earned The Marshall Project and Mississippi Today the 2021 Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The 2020 series, “Mississippi Penal System, Uncovered,” chronicled the violence in Mississippi prisons where neither inmates nor guards are safe, financial improprieties with the private company running Mississippi prisons, and the continued existence of debtors’ prisons.

story by on the vast network of influence that utility company FirstEnergy had on lawmakers throughout the state, was named runner-up.


2020 Winner: The Oregonian

A four-part series telling the story of how corporate cash corrupted one of the greenest states in America earned The Oregonian the first Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The February 2019 series, “Polluted by Money,” identified specific problems in Oregon: Campaign contributions with no limits, loose rules on how campaign contributions can be spent by recipient politicians, and a weak oversight regime by a regulatory agency with no teeth.

Runners up included a joint project between the Center for Public Integrity and the USA Today Network for “Copy, Paste, Legislate,”and the Philadelphia Inquirer for their series, “Beaten, then Silenced.