The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit media organization covering criminal justice, has hired Shannon Heffernan as a staff writer.
Heffernan will work with editors and other journalists to report and produce stories about prison conditions, experiences of the incarcerated, their families and corrections officers, the federal Bureau of Prisons and the death penalty. In this role, she will build on her experience cultivating sources both inside and outside prisons and jails.
“We're delighted to welcome Shannon, who has shown such dedication, rigor and innovation in her years covering prisons and the incarcerated,” said Susan Chira, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project. “Between her multipart series about corrections officers in Illinois and the inspired ‘Prisoncast’ program, she embodies our mission to expose abuses and to make sure that our work is for, not just about, people behind bars.”
Heffernan joins The Marshall Project from WBEZ in Chicago, where she covered prisons and jails in Illinois over her 15 years as a public radio reporter. She developed deep sources there and mined public records and lawsuits to examine issues such as abuse and misconduct by prison guards.
During her tenure at WBEZ, she was the lead reporter and host of Season Four of WBEZ's “Motive,” a podcast investigating abuse and corruption in small town prisons in Illinois. Her work has been honored with a National Murrow Award for best writing and a National Headliner Award, among many others.
Last year, she worked on WBEZ’s “Prisoncast” project, which collected sound and music requests from people in Illinois prisons and their families. Sound requests included the Chicago Bulls starting lineup, the waves of Lake Michigan and a person being released from prison. Collaborating with stations across the state, they were able to broadcast the two-hour special into every prison in Illinois.
Heffernan lives in Chicago. Her first day with The Marshall Project will be Aug. 28.