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AxisPhilly reporter Isaiah Thompson has earned a Special Recognition from the Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism, for his in-depth reporting on how the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is aggressively seizing money and other assets from people who have been arrested, whether or not they’ve been proven guilty.

Thompson’s article, “Cash Machine,” which he wrote while at the Philadelphia City Paper with assistance from AxisPhilly’s Casey Thomas, details how the Philadelphia DA pursues far more cases of civil asset forfeiture than other units across Pennsylvania and beyond. Thompson’s report unveiled a “forfeiture machine” that ignores guilt or innocence of property owners while generating millions of dollars in revenue for the DA and police department.

This year’s main Weiss award was earned by The Philadelphia Daily News, with its report “Bad Brass”  by reporters Barbara Laker, David Gambacorta and Dana DiFilippo, with editor Michelle Bjork. The Daily News report exposed under-reported misconduct by police officials (see links below).

Jeff Cole of Fox29 also earned special recognition this year with his report “Used Mattresses,” which detailed problems in the way used mattresses are  cleaned, labeled and even made safe from fire before getting ready to be resold.

The Weiss Award was established in 2012 by local business leader Larry Weiss. It is administered by the Temple University Center for Public Interest Journalism.

“Our communities benefit greatly from the work of our investigative journalists,” Weiss said. “I hope this award encourages more reporters to devote their resources to this essential part of journalism.”

The Center for Public Interest Journalism is housed within Temple’s School of Media and Communication.

“CPIJ was created in 2010 to support programming and projects intended to improve the quality and quantity of public interest news and reporting in the Greater Philadelphia area,” says Thomas Jacobson, interim dean of the School of Media and Communication. “The quality of this year’s Weiss Award winners certainly reveals a promising future for investigative journalism in our area.”

Daily News articles:

Policewoman says she endured years of sexual harassment by internal affairs boss

Commish, D.A. to investigate high-ranking cop’s conduct

Complaints roll in, but high-level cop keeps getting promoted

Despite a litany of complaints & lawsuits, why is Carl Holmes being promoted again?