Laura Sullivan

Laura Sullivan is a NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most disadvantaged people.

Sullivan is one of NPR's most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk. For six years she covered crime and punishment issues, with reports airing regularly on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other NPR programs before joining NPR's investigations unit.

Her unflinching series "Native Foster Care," which aired in three parts on All Things Considered in October 2011, examined how lack of knowledge about Native culture and traditions and federal financial funding all influence the decision to remove so many Native-American children from homes in South Dakota. Through more than 150 interviews with state and federal officials, tribal representatives and families from eight South Dakota tribes, plus a review of thousands of records, Sullivan and NPR producers pieced together a narrative of inequality in the foster care system across the state. In addition to her third Peabody, the series also won Sullivan her second Robert F. Kennedy Award.

"Bonding for Profit" – a three-part investigative series that aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered in 2010 – earned Sullivan her second duPont and Peabody, as well as awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and the American Bar Association. Working with editor Steve Drummond, Sullivan's stories in this series revealed deep and costly flaws in one of the most common – and commonly misunderstood – elements of the US criminal justice system.

Also in 2011, Sullivan was honored for the second time by Investigative Reporters and Editors for her two part series examining the origins of Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070.

For the three-part series, "36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death and Justice on Angola," she was honored with a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, a 2008 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and her first Robert F. Kennedy Award.

In 2007, Sullivan exposed the epidemic of rape on Native American reservations, which are committed largely by non-Native men, and examined how tribal and federal authorities have failed to investigate those crimes. In addition to a duPont, this two-part series earned Sullivan a DART Award for outstanding reporting, an Edward R. Murrow and her second Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.

Her first Gracie was for a three-part series examining of the state of solitary confinement in this country. She was also awarded the 2007 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for this series.

Before coming to NPR, Sullivan was a Washington correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, where she covered the Justice Department, the FBI and terrorism.

As a student at Northwestern University in 1996, Sullivan worked with two fellow students on a project that ultimately freed four men, including two death-row inmates, who had been wrongfully convicted of an 18-year-old murder on the south side of Chicago. The case led to a review of Illinois' death row and a moratorium on capital punishment in the state, and received several awards.

Outside of her career as a reporter, Sullivan once spent a summer gutting fish in Alaska, and another summer cutting trails outside Yosemite National Park. She says these experiences gave her "a sense of adventure" that comes through in her reporting. Sullivan, who was born and raised in San Francisco, loves traveling the country to report radio stories that "come to life in a way that was never possible in print."

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6:34am

Wed November 19, 2014
Around the Nation

Ohio Bill Would Shield Source Of Lethal Injection Drugs

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 4:47 pm

Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would shield the identity of any pharmacy or drugmaker that provides drugs for executions.

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3:06pm

Mon November 17, 2014
The Two-Way

'Flying Doughnuts': Airbus Files Patent For A New Kind Of Plane

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 1:50 pm

Airbus' patented design for amphitheater-like seating.
Espacenet

Airbus has filed a patent for a new plane that looks decidedly more Star Trek Enterprise than airplane.

The Financial Times dubbed it "flying doughnuts."

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1:54pm

Fri November 14, 2014
The Two-Way

NBA Commissioner Thinks Gambling On Games Should Be Legal

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 8:37 pm

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference during the NBA Board of Governors meeting in July.
John Locher AP

"I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated."

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10:26am

Thu November 13, 2014
The Two-Way

Red Cross Employee Survey Finds Doubts About Leadership, Ethics

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 1:08 pm

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET.

A new employee survey isn't good news for the American Red Cross. Just 39 percent of employees trust the senior leadership of the organization. And 4 out of 10 employees have doubts about the charity's commitment to ethical conduct.

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4:10pm

Wed November 12, 2014
The Two-Way

China's Leader Says Journalists Are Like Broken Cars

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 9:30 am

8:00pm

Tue November 11, 2014
The Two-Way

Chinese Shoppers Set Record For 'Singles Day' Shopping Spree

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 9:26 am

You might not know this, but today is "singles day." That's according to China and the world's largest supplier of goods, Alibaba. Together the two have turned an obscure student holiday into the country's biggest shopping event.

In the 1990s, Chinese university students began celebrating being unattached on Nov. 11, which of course is abbreviated 11/11.

The idea was for singles to go out, go to parties, go to bars without all the Valentine's Day commercial schmaltz.

At least that's what it was. Now it's the biggest commercial holiday on the planet.

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5:49pm

Mon November 10, 2014
Law

Police Can Seize And Sell Assets Even When The Owner Broke No Law

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 7:03 pm

You don't have to be convicted of a crime — or even accused of one — for police to seize your car or other property. It's legal. Several videos online are shedding some light on the controversial practice.

The practice is called civil asset forfeiture, and every year it brings cities millions of dollars in revenue, which often goes directly to the police budget. Police confiscate cars, jewelry, cash and homes they think are connected to crime. But the people these things belong to may have done nothing wrong.

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4:07pm

Fri August 29, 2014
Governing

Justice Department Supports Native Americans In Child Welfare Case

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:40 pm

Chase Iron Eyes, an attorney with the Lakota People's Law Project, is calling for a turnaround of child welfare and foster care systems.
Kevin Cederstrom AP

The Justice Department has weighed in on a class-action lawsuit in South Dakota pitting Native American tribes against state officials, and come down resoundingly in support of tribes.

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3:21am

Mon August 4, 2014
It's All Politics

A Tax Bill Killed By The Push And Pull Of Politics On The Hill

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 12:12 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting at the Capitol last Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

A few months back, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, brought a bill to the floor that basically offered tax incentives to businesses and individuals. Those incentives are called tax extenders.

They include big stuff and small stuff — tax breaks for wind farms, tax breaks for schoolteachers who buy their own supplies. Tax breaks for rum producers in Puerto Rico, people who make movies, race track owners, even some breaks for people who bike to work. In other words, something for every lawmaker to take home.

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4:08pm

Wed July 30, 2014
Politics

Senate Bill Would Fine Colleges For Mismanaging Campus Rape Cases

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 1:48 pm

Eighteen-year-old Anna went off to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York last year, where she says she was raped several weeks into her freshman year.

A medical examiner's report found blunt-force trauma, possibly from multiple men, and found she had high alcohol levels. A witness described seeing her in the back of a dance hall being raped by a football player while others watched or took photos.

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