2019 / Dr. Pamela McPherson, Dr. Scott Allen, and Scott Shuchart
Dr. Scott Allen, Dr. Pamela McPherson, and Scott Shuchart are co-recipients of the 2019 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
In describing this year’s winners, the selection committee stated, “Unlike any other time since Watergate, this nation needs courageous whistleblowers whose fidelity to truth outweighs their own financial interests. Today three such individuals have emerged to alert us to the abuse that children and families are experiencing as a result of policies and practices on our borders. We honor all three for their patriotism and integrity.”
Scott Allen and Pamela McPherson, medical doctors who serve as subject matter experts for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, exposed to the Senate Whistleblowing Caucus the serious health risks to children who are separated from their parents and detained as part of the U.S. administration’s zero tolerance policy at the southern border. Scott Shuchart publicly resigned his job as a senior advisor for the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, when it became clear to him that the department’s family separation policy violated the civil and human rights of migrants and asylum seekers.
All three whistleblowers were featured on 60 Minutes on November 25, 2018. Grounded in the unassailable expertise that these three Prize winners provided, the broadcast graphically illustrated the harm that child and family detention and separation have caused countless thousands.
“We are honored by Ridenhour Prize’s recognition that informing Congress and the American people of the trauma that their government has inflicted on children and parents in their name is not only an ethical, humanitarian obligation of our professions but a critical patriotic duty,” they said. “Telling this story has been an important step, but more needs to be done by those in and out of government to ensure that we are all responding to the needs of children caught up in trans-national violence and our complex immigration system.”
Dr. Scott Allen is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine where he was Chair of the Department of Medicine and an Associate Dean. After medical studies and residency at Brown University, he served in the National Health Service Corps in the Mississippi Delta and Rhode Island, then worked at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections as medical director for its jails and prisons, and worked at the state psychiatric hospital. He co-founded the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown and he serves as a Medical Advisor for Physicians for Human Rights, where he helped to uncover medical participation in the U.S. torture program and co-authored reports on harms of the U.S. interrogation program after 9/11. In California, he co-founded the Access Clinic, a primary care clinic for adults with developmental disabilities. He serves as a medical consultant for the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security monitoring medical care in immigration detention facilities.
Pamela K. McPherson, MD, FAPA, is a medical doctor triple-boarded in general, child and adolescent, and forensic psychiatry. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Shreveport Behavioral Health Clinic, a gratis assistant professor at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, and a mental health subject matter expert for the Office of Civil Right and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. McPherson focuses her research on the mental health of justice-involved youth as well as conditions of juvenile confinement, and consults for the U.S. government and non-profits on mental health services for justice-involved youth.
Scott Shuchart is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a legal strategy consultant for Kids in Need of Defense, Inc. (KIND). From 2010 to 2018 he was the senior advisor to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he worked extensively on immigration enforcement, detention and custody, and border security, with an emphasis on data-driven analysis to identify civil rights and civil liberties violations. While at DHS, Shuchart led efforts to ensure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities initiative and other programs respected civil rights and avoided racial profiling. He is a graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School. From 2003 to 2004, Shuchart clerked for Judge Marsha S. Berzon on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He taught at the Yale Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic from 2008 to 2010, which won several important cases, including the landmark asylum case Negusie v. Holder. Prior to joining the federal government, he was a litigator in San Francisco and in New York.