Truth-Telling Prize Recipient, 2019

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.”

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.