In his article, The War on The War on Drugs, Paul Webster investigates the little-known fact that large numbers of law enforcement officers see drug problems through a mental health lens and are skeptical of current drug laws.
“Paul Webster’s piece is an outstanding assessment of the fraught nature of both policing and criminal drug policy,” noted the awards jury.
SASKATOON — CBC’s look at how certain interrogation techniques can elicit false confessions from innocent people, and Vancouver journalist Paul Webster’s in-depth profile of a police officer who criticizes the very drug laws he’s bound to enforce are the winners of the 2013 Stephen Hanson Awards (formerly the Justicia Awards) for Excellence in Journalism.
Sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), the Stephen Hanson Awards recognize outstanding broadcast and print or web journalism that fosters public awareness and understanding of any aspect of the Canadian justice system and the roles played by institutions and participants in the legal system. Awards are given in two categories: print and broadcast media.
In his article, The War on The War on Drugs, Paul Webster investigates the little-known fact that large numbers of law enforcement officers see drug problems through a mental health lens and are skeptical of current drug laws. Published in Vancouver Magazine, this article profiles Constable David Bratzer, a Victoria, BC-based police officer who campaigns against Canadian drug laws in his free time while upholding them when he is on duty.
“Paul Webster’s piece is an outstanding assessment of the fraught nature of both policing and criminal drug policy,” noted the awards jury. “This officer has seen first-hand the impact of regressive drug laws, and his efforts to reconcile his personal condemnation of these laws through campaigning while still doing his duty and bringing lawbreakers to justice, mirrors the same tension, albeit unacknowledged and unresolved, within the justice system itself.”
Paul Webster is a writer and documentary director. His journalism on science, medicine, business and politics has been published in numerous magazines, scientific journals and newspapers across Canada, the U.S., and Europe and broadcast by the BBC, CBC, Deutsche Welle, Discovery, National Geographic, Slice, SWR and Vision TV networks.
“Bravo to this policeman for speaking to parliamentarians to bring his own experience and perspective to the debate. It shows how to initiate change in the laws of the land, and that change can come from within the system,” added the jury.
The Stephen Hanson Awards for Excellence in Journalism are named after Stephen Hanson, who led the CBA’s communications department for 36 years until his retirement in 2012.
The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.