Book Prize Recipient, 2016

Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, is the 2016 recipient of The Ridenhour Book Prize. Reporting on the details of a single homicide case in South Los Angeles, Leovy offers an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, examining why murder happens in our cities — and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.

“The Ridenhour judges commend Jill Leovy for her deeply researched and moving book, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America,” said the Ridenhour Book Prize selection committee. “Pursuing a single homicide case in South Los Angeles, Leovy reveals the extraordinary pain borne by communities where the murder of young black men is a daily occurrence. At a time when the relationship between the police and the people they serve is under heightened scrutiny, Leovy offers the counter-intuitive insight that a real problem for poor, black neighborhoods is the under-policing when it comes to murder. In this way Ghettoside serves as a powerful reminder that the opposite of poverty is justice. If we as a society want to show that ‘black lives matter,’ then we must also recognize that the ‘system’s failure to catch killers’ has ‘effectively made black lives cheap.'”

“Ron Ridenhour stood valiantly against one of the gravest sins of our time — the compulsion to craft official truths to mask truths on the ground,” said Jill Leovy. “He grasped that no lie is worse than a lie about violence. His relentless work to rescue reality from propaganda and to give victims a face remains a clarion call to journalists everywhere, and I am deeply honored to be chosen for this award in his name. The list of previous recipients is humbling — thank you for admitting me into their company.”

More 2016 Prize Winners

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