Alaska newspaper wins a Pulitzer for its investigation of rural criminal justice flaws

It's the third Pulitzer Prize the Anchorage Daily News has won.

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A view of downtown Anchorage from Earthquake Park. The Anchorage Daily News won the paper’s third Pulitzer Prize for a series investigating the neglect of the state’s rural criminal justice system. (Luke Jones / CC-BY 2.0 via Flickr)

A special series of reports on the criminal justice system in rural Alaska from the Anchorage Daily News, in collaboration with ProPublica, has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, beating out the other finalists, national newspapers The New York Times and Washington Post.

The series, “Lawless,” found that a third of Alaska’s rural communities, most of which have majority Indigenous populations, have no law enforcement of any kind, and that out of desperation, some communities hired law enforcement personnel with felonies, domestic assault convictions or other issues that might otherwise disqualify them from such a role.

The series also highlighted issues of sexual violence in Alaska, and prompted responses from legislators and the Trump administration, which sent Attorney General William Barr to visit the region and eventually pledged tens of millions of dollars to combat the problems raised in the paper’s reporting.

The prize is the third Pulitzer in the newspaper’s history, all of which have come in the Public Service category.