Alison Flowers is an investigative journalist who focuses on social justice and criminal justice. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, TIME, The Village Voice, VICE, Chicago Reader and elsewhere. She is the author of “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity” (Haymarket Books, 2016), and she contributed to the anthology “Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States.” In 2013, she produced a multimedia series about exonerees for Chicago Public Media and NPR affiliate WBEZ. The yearlong project was a finalist for a national Online Journalism Award. She is a two-time winner of the Hillman Foundation’s Sidney Award.
Flowers works at the Invisible Institute, a production company on the South Side of Chicago, where she was part of a team win for a 2015 Peter Lisagor Award for Best Data Journalism by the Chicago Headline Club and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine Award, a top national journalism award for contributions to open government. The Invisible Institute also won the Knight News Challenge on Data in January 2016, for its Citizens Police Data Project. Flowers is also a fellow with the Social Justice News Nexus, an investigative journalism project supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Flowers has been quoted in justice-focused stories in numerous media outlets, including Newsweek, USA Today, Vox, ABC News, The New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor. In 2016, she was featured at Book Expo America and on the Chris Hedges’ “On Contact” program, as well as many other TV and radio shows, including “Democracy Now!“. At the 2015 Howard Zinn Book Fair, Flowers participated on the panel, “Women Writing Against the Prison Industrial Complex.” In 2014, she moderated a panel featuring women exonerees at the annual international Innocence Network conference. The Illinois Humanities Council also featured Flowers at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2014, and she headlined at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in 2015.
From 2011 to 2013, Flowers worked as a research associate at Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project where she contributed to the investigations of potentially wrongful convictions and explored other systemic criminal justice issues. Flowers wrote several stories for the project’s “Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome,” which was awarded a Peter Lisagor Award by the Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists.
Prior to her work at Medill, Flowers worked as an on-air TV reporter in Georgia. There she broke the story when serial murder crime scene evidence — viable material for DNA testing that a judge testified in federal court had been destroyed — was discovered in a police department basement. The revelation ultimately led to a stay in a death row inmate’s scheduled execution, resulting in the first DNA tests in the more than 30-year-old case. Flowers’ work also made national headlines when she reported that a Georgia homeless shelter discriminated against gays and lesbians. In another watchdog story, a police chief and Georgia peace officer trainer resigned after Flowers brought to light he had fired a warning shot at a man suspected of marijuana possession.
Flowers is a Northwestern University alumna, having earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism in 2009. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized a short documentary that Flowers produced as a semi-finalist for a student Academy Award in 2010, and the same piece won in a social change category in an online film festival. She also holds a graduate liberal arts degree in Religion and Literature. Flowers is a member of the journalism honor society KAPPA TAU ALPHA, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association for Women Journalists and the Journalism and Women Symposium. Flowers is also an alumna of The OpEd Project and a volunteer mentor for GlobalGirl Media, an organization that empowers young women from underserved communities around the world through new media leadership training.