The WFAA-TV news series "Deporting Justice," which showed how thousands of accused felons — charged with crimes such as murder, rape and assault — are routinely deported, rather than face criminal prosecution, has won the prestigious Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award.
The series, reported by David Schechter and producer Mark Smith with editor/photographer Kraig Kirchem, found the practice proliferated because local, state and federal law enforcement agencies simply fail to cooperate to ensure that accused felons go to trial.
The "Deporting Justice" series highlights a breakdown in the criminal justice system in which victims fear for their lives after speaking out about violent crimes — only to later fear that the deported offenders may illegally return to harm them again.
"Deporting Justice" has triggered an array of public policy changes and has spurred proposals by law enforcement, immigration authorities, lawmakers and the judiciary.
• Improved cooperation among federal immigration officials and Dallas-area law enforcement
• Increased staffing of federal immigration intake agents at the county jail
• Minimum $100,000 bonds for prisoners facing possible deportation
• Better monitoring of an accused felons’ possible release
• A legislative plan to eliminate a loop hole in state bonding law
• A federal proposal to improve cooperation between local and federal agencies by creating a network of regional task forces nationwide.