I’m proud to announce the newest addition to the Intercept staff, award-winning investigative journalist Jordan Smith. Jordan hails from the Austin Chronicle, where, since 2001, she has produced groundbreaking investigations of Texas’s deeply flawed criminal justice system.
I first learned of Jordan’s work more than a decade ago, through anti-death penalty organizers fighting for the life of Rodney Reed. A black man sentenced to death for the murder of a white police officer’s fiancée in Bastrop, TX, Reed was sent to death row despite significant proof that he may be innocent. It was Jordan’s reporting that exposed—and which has continued to expose—this evidence, which the courts have repeatedly refused to consider, but which has proven critical to keeping the case in the public eye.
There are countless similar examples. Jordan’s superb instincts, curiosity and tenacity have led her to publish story after story over the years that have had a direct impact on criminal cases in Texas. Her hard-hitting reports have been instrumental in helping to free the wrongly convicted, including of prisoners on death row, and have also led to the revising of Texas law to include stronger safeguards for people accused of crimes. This is investigative reporting at its best—the kind of accountability journalism that we wish to be the hallmark of The Intercept.
Jordan covers issues beyond the criminal justice system. When I finally met her in person, at an award ceremony in Washington D.C., she was being honored for her reporting on Governor Rick Perry’s assault on Planned Parenthood. I was thrilled to find myself at her table—and even happier to have her agree to bring her stories into the pages of The Nation Magazine.
In the next few months, Jordan, along with the excellent Natasha Vargas-Cooper, whose hiring we announced last week, and I will begin building The Intercept’s criminal justice coverage, to show the myriad ways in which our system of crime and punishment is fatally flawed. But we will cover other issues, too—and other journalists at The Intercept will also write stories on the U.S. justice system.
Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the horrible excesses of our criminal justice system—from solitary confinement to draconian mandatory minimum sentencing. We plan to build upon this growing consciousness to show—as the NSA documents themselves do—that it is impossible to separate this system from the national security and surveillance state. This means publishing stories that expose the links between domestic prisons, policing, and criminal justice policies and Guantanamo, drones, and post-9/11 foreign policy. It means reminding our readers that the government abuses we have seen in War on Terror found expression long ago through the War on Drugs. And it means showing how the same government/corporate relationships and profit incentives that drive belligerent foreign policy and infringements on civil liberties drive domestic criminal justice policies as well.
Finally, it means doing reporting that drives home the human cost of such indefinite, unjust and violent policies, which affect communities the media has been too willing to ignore.
Stay tuned. There is much more to come.