For revealing a Durham County jail inmate’s lethal exposure to coronavirus, 9th Street Journal reporter Dryden Quigley has won the 2021 Frank Barrows Award for Excellence in Student Journalism.
The North Carolina Open Government Coalition award recognizes student journalists whose work uses public records, open meetings or press access to shine light on how government performs.
In October, Quigley published a story revealing that Darrell Kersey died of COVID-19 at Duke Regional Hospital after contracting coronavirus while in the custody of Durham County Detention Facility.
The High Point man was sentenced to a state prison term by then. But he remained in the county jail due to pandemic-related delays in moving people to state prisons.
Sheriff Clarence Birkhead did not disclose the fatal exposure. Quigley, a Duke University senior, did after obtaining Kersey’s death certificate and scouring county and state records.
Those records detailed who was detained in the Durham County facility, Kersey’s criminal case and sentencing, and COVID-19 deaths among state prison inmates.
“During the past year, a wave of COVID-19 cases and related deaths occurred in North Carolina prisons and jails. Quigley’s use of public records and inmate databases situated Kersey’s death in the context of a statewide — if not nationally significant — story about health and safety in carceral facilities,” today’s award announcement states.
Read more about the award and Quigley’s work here.
At top: Dryden Quigley, a Duke University senior, covers Durham County for The 9th Street Journal.