The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling is presented to a “citizen, corporate or government whistleblower, investigative journalist, or organization for bringing a specific issue of social importance to the public’s attention.” Although telling the truth is one of the foundational skills we learned in preschool, it takes courage and passion to speak that truth publicly and when the stakes are high. This prize recognizes risk-takers, driven to bring light to the truth.
The 2019 Prize for Truth-Telling has been awarded to Dr. Scott Allen, Dr. Pamela McPherson, and Scott Shuchart collectively for their persistent and forthright efforts to expose the devastating effects of family separation at detention centers on the southern border.
Drs Allen and McPherson are physicians serving the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. They testified to the Senate Whistleblowing Office about the trauma separating children and parents causes families. Dr Allen is an expert in health and human rights, and currently monitors medical care in immigration detention facilities; Dr. McPherson is a child psychiatrist and mental health subject matter expert for DHS. Their opinion, testimony and recommendations are rooted in education, research, knowledge and experience.
Shuchart, a Yale-educated lawyer, worked extensively on immigration, using data to analyze and identify civil rights and civil liberties violations as a former senior advisor for the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. He resigned his position because he believes DHS’s family separation policy is a violation of the civil and human rights of immigrants. His resignation is an act of courage, a bold testament to his commitment to the law and to his ethical and humanitarian beliefs.
Collectively, Allen, McPherson, and Shuchart have served a great civic duty by informing Congress and all Americans about the consequences of separating families in immigration detention centers. The world needs these truth-tellers… the people willing to use their expertise to educate others and with the resolution to speak out and act when their knowledge proves something isn’t right.
The annual Ridenhour Prizes recognize those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society. These prizes memorialize the spirit of fearless truth-telling that whistleblower and investigative journalist Ron Ridenhour reflected throughout his extraordinary life and career. Each prize carries a $10,000 stipend.