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Public Citizen Honors Longtime Dedication to Public Interest

Dec. 8, 2008 

Public Citizen Honors Longtime Dedication to Public Interest

Laura A. Davidson of the Correctional Association of New York to Receive the Sixth AnnualPhyllis McCarthy Public Interest Award

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Laura A. Davidson, a 20-year staff member and now director of operations of the Correctional Association of New York, will receive Public Citizen’s sixth annual Phyllis McCarthy Public Interest Service Award at a reception at 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 8, at Public Citizen’s office at 1600 20th Street, NW.

 In nominating Davidson, the Correctional Association’s executive director Robert Gangi said, “Laura’s commitment to the mission and the vision of the organization extends well beyond the bounds of the work day and her job description.” Gangi described Davidson as a source of support and comfort to formerly incarcerated people and their family members.

 The Correctional Association is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1844 by concerned citizens and granted unique authority by the New York State Legislature to inspect prisons and report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature, the public and the press. Through monitoring, research, public education and policy recommendations, the Correctional Association strives to make the administration of justice in New York state more fair, efficient and humane. 

 Public Citizen created the award after Phyllis McCarthy,* a 24-year employee of its Health Research Group, passed away in November 2002. The award is intended to recognize individuals who have worked long and hard for a public interest group, performing critical functions as did McCarthy, but who have not received public credit commensurate with their contributions.

 In addition to its prison monitoring responsibilities, the Correctional Association works to protect the rights of incarcerated women and their families, and to create a humane and just juvenile justice system by curbing the state’s overreliance on juvenile detention and incarceration. The association runs three leadership development trainings for women and adolescents directly affected by the system. “Davidson has given clothing, time and emotional sustenance to many participants in our leadership development programs, many of whom are adults recently released from prison or young people with troubled home lives,” Gangi said.

 Gangi and Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will speak at the reception.

 *Phyllis McCarthy began her career at Public Citizen in 1978 as the Health Research Group’s managing editor and office manager. McCarthy played an integral part in the development and preparation of numerous health publications, including Worst Pills, Best Pills and more than 1,000 reports, medical journal articles and petitions to governmental health and safety agencies.