Post and Courier Wins September Sidney for Exposing South Carolina’s Domestic Homicide Crisis

By: Press Release

The Post and Courier wins the September Sidney Award for “Till Death Do Us Part,” an investigative multimedia series examining South Carolina’s domestic homicide crisis.

More than 300 women have been killed by men in South Carolina in the past decade. At the time the series was published, the state had the highest rate of male-on-female murder in the country. An eight-month investigation by Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff found sexism and guns were to blame for a death rate more than twice the national average.

Through interviews with survivors, prosecutors, police, judges, pastors, and legislators, the reporters discovered that deep-seated conservative attitudes about the sanctity of marriage and a man’s control over his household make the heavily male-dominated state legislature reluctant to invest in support for battered women, impose meaningful penalties for batterers or keep guns out of the hands of known abusers.

“More than two-thirds of the states and the federal government prohibit firearm possession by abusers who are subject to domestic protective orders,” said Glenn Smith. “Legislation to bring South Carolina in line with these states died in the past session in committees without a vote taking place.”

All 46 of the state’s counties have animal shelters but only 18 have domestic violence shelters. At least 380 women fleeing abuse were turned away from a shelter between 2012 and 2013.

“The Post and Courier fearlessly exposed the roots of South Carolina’s domestic violence crisis: Sexism, guns, and legislative neglect” said Sidney judge Lindsay Beyerstein. “These reporters tackled controversial issues with rigor and compassion.”

The story is having a major impact. The SC House Speaker empaneled a committee to hold immediate hearings and have a bill ready on the first day of the upcoming General Assembly to improve the state’s domestic violence laws.

Doug Pardue is a projects reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. Before joining the Charleston paper, he was news projects editor for USA Today.

Glenn Smith is projects editor for The Post and Courier. He is a 2014 H.F. Guggenheim Journalism Fellow and was named South Carolina’s Journalist of the Year for 2012.

Jennifer Berry Hawes is a feature writer for The Post and Courier who covers faith and values with a special interest in social issues.

Natalie Caula Hauff is a former court reporter for The Post and Courier. She helped produce “Till Death Do Us Part” before leaving the newspaper to take a job as a media relations coordinator for Charleston County government.

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