Boston-based media organization PRX, along with Futuro Studios, took home a Pulitzer Prize on Monday in the audio reporting category for “Suave,” a seven-part podcast that chronicles the life of a man after he is released from prison.
“Suave,” distributed by PRX and produced by Futuro Studios, explores how the criminal justice system prosecutes juveniles, particularly men of color, like David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez, who is the focus of the series. The Pulitzer Prize Board characterized “Suave” as “a brutally honest and immersive profile of a man reentering society after serving more than 30 years in prison.”
“When I heard the news that ‘Suave’ won the Pulitzer Prize, I felt like a tectonic shift happened,” said Maria Hinojosa, president and founder of Futuro Media, in a written statement. “The Pulitzer is an example of American excellence. That our podcast focusing on people that are often forgotten just because they are behind bars is being recognized is an extraordinary feat.”
Other finalists in the audio reporting category were National Public Radio for its stories on the war in East Africa, and NBC News for “Southlake,” a podcast about a Texas town roiled by critical race theory in its schools.
Gonzalez, the focus of “Suave,” was convicted on a charge of first-degree homicide in 1988. He committed the crime when he was 17 years old. Gonzalez was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and expected to die in a maximum-security Pennsylvania prison.
In 2016, however, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile cases was to apply retroactively. Gonzalez, now in his 50s, was released from prison in 2017 on lifetime parole.
The podcast tracks Gonzalez’s childhood, his imprisonment, and his long-term connection with Hinojosa, who is featured in the podcast. The series was hosted by Maggie Freleng.
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org