Journalism Today | Tony Messenger, Metro Columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Tony Messenger February 22, 2024 at St. Louis Rotary

At St. Louis Rotary Lunch | February 22, 2024 from 12pm until 1pm

“As a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger has spent years in courthouses documenting how poor Americans are convicted of minor crimes and then saddled with exorbitant fines and fees. If they are unable to pay, they are often sent to prison, where they are then charged a pay-to-stay bill, in a cycle that soon creates a mountain of debt. These insidious penalties are used to raise money for broken local and state budgets, often overseen by for-profit companies, and it is one of the central issues of the criminal justice reform movement.

“Profit and Punishment” is a call to arms, shining a light on a two-tiered system invisible to most Americans. Messenger introduces readers to three single mothers whose lives are upended when minor offenses become monumental financial catastrophes. As these women struggle to clear their debt and move on with their lives, readers meet the dogged civil rights advocates fighting by their side to create a more equitable and fair court of justice. In this remarkable feat of reporting, Tony Messenger exposes injustice that is agonizing and infuriating in its mundane cruelty, as he champions the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable Americans.

Tony Messenger is the metro columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In 2019, Messenger won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his series of columns on debtors’ prisons in Missouri. In 2016, Messenger was awarded a Missouri Honor Medal, the highest award bestowed by the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. That same year he won a National Headliner for editorial writing. In 2015, Messenger was a Pulitzer finalist for his series of editorials on Ferguson, and won the Sigma Delta Chi award for best editorials of the year, given by the Society of Professional Journalists”

Bio from St. Louis County Library Press Release