Latino-led Futuro Media & PRX win Pulitzer for 'Suave,' a podcast about a prisoner’s journey to freedom
The story follows David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez, a young man that was incarcerated for homicide.
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The Pulitzer Prize announced its 2022 winners on Monday, May 9, naming the podcast series Suave from Futuro Media and public media organization PRX as the winner in the Audio Reporting category.
Suave is a seven-part podcast series that follows the story of David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez , a young man re-entering society after serving more than 30 years in prison.
Suave is about a criminal justice system that sentences juveniles to life in prison — particularly young men of color — and what happens when, decades later, they’re suddenly granted one more chance at freedom. The podcast explores the evolution of Suave from boy to man, and explores incarceration, redemption, and the often unusual relationship between a journalist and a source.
In 1988, Gonzalez was found guilty of a first-degree homicide committed when he was 17 years old. A Philadelphia judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At Graterford State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, Suave joined the largest population of juvenile lifers in the country, young men considered by the U.S. justice system to be “irredeemable.” Then, in 2016, a Supreme Court decision changed everything. After expecting to die in prison, suddenly Gonzalez had another chance at freedom.
The Pulitzer Prizes, administered by Columbia University and considered the most prestigious in American journalism, recognize work in 15 journalism categories and seven arts categories. This year’s awards, which were live streamed, honored work produced in 2021.
The Futuro Media production team includes executive producer Maria Hinojosa, host and producer Maggie Freleng, reporter and producer Julieta Martinelli, story editor Audrey Quinn, engineer and sound designer Stephanie Lebow, and executive editor Marlon Bishop. The podcast is distributed by PRX and was released free to audiences in February 2021.
In remarks during the announcement of this year’s winners, John Daniszewski of the Associated Press and co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, stated: “These stories sometimes right injustice, sometimes they illuminate a deeper context of the local communities in which we live. Sometimes they surprise and entertain. Though what all of the art and journalism we honor today has in common is that it was done ethically and seriously and in its enterprise has played a part in keeping our democracies vibrant.”