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Medill Justice Project

Unique to Medill, this award-winning project was founded in 1999 for Medill undergraduates whose work, along with graduate students’, has resulted in murder convictions being overturned. MJP students gain the satisfaction of improving the lives of wrongfully convicted inmates through their investigations.

Learn investigative journalism

Students probe national, systemic criminal justice issues and conduct groundbreaking research, leading to changes in public policy. The quarter you spend working at MJP includes gathering case records, studying files, visiting crime scenes, interviewing sources—including prisoners, defense attorneys, prosecutors, witnesses and experts—and drafting investigative stories. These are edited and published on the project’s website and sometimes published by a partnering professional news organization or an advocacy organization specializing in law or justice.

Solving Shaken-Baby Cases

Medill students worked with graduate students at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering to compile a database on shaken-baby syndrome cases in the U.S. and abroad. The journalism students also partnered with The Washington Post on a series of stories on the topic. Because of evidence students uncovered, an Illinois day care worker was released from prison after being convicted of shaking a baby to death.

In 2014 a federal judge release Jennifer Del Prete (left) from prison after Medill Justice Project students uncovered a letter from a police detective that cast serious doubt on her guilt.
In 2014, a federal judge released Jennifer Del Prete, left, from prison after Medill Justice Project students uncovered a letter from a police detective that cast serious doubt on her guilt.

Other MJP topics:

Along with my five MJP classmates, I was in pursuit of the truth for a man with a possible wrongful conviction. The skills I developed through this experience — how to report relentlessly, get every detail right and manage a large project with real-world consequences — continue to serve me in my career." Lara Takenaga (BSJ11)

Assistant editor, Syndicate at The New York Times

Explore the Medill Justice Project website