Charlene "Charlie" Padilla, Mother of Chino Inmate, to Get Prestigious Journalism Award
Padilla is one of four individuals and a newspaper that will be honored with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) national Sunshine Award for important contributions in the pursuit of open government.
Padilla received a letter from her son months after an August 2009 inmate riot at the California Institution for Men at Chino. He described his and other inmates' confinement in outside cages without adequate clothing or shade to protect them from searing daytime sun or blankets during the night.
The inmate's mother then began a letter-writing, fact-finding mission to develop evidence of the conditions at CIM. The Ontario resident's queries yielded scores of letters from inmates who described the build-up to the riot, the violence and injuries they saw.
According to SPJ:
Although she was not a trained journalist, Padilla's qualities of true investigative journalism showed dogged determination, exhaustive documentation and research. As a mother and concerned Californian, she worked to expose and correct substandard conditions in a state prison.
More information on SPJ: www.spj.org