BEST CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE - 2004
The caustic Miami Herald columnist (and New Times alumnus) has been relentless in his pursuit of adults responsible for the injustices suffered by South Florida's discarded children. When authorities at all levels were ducking for cover following the pitiful and needless death of juvenile jail inmate Omar Paisley (who slowly, painfully succumbed to a ruptured appendix), DeFede wrote column after column demanding that someone pay for the boy's untimely demise. Finally the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office convened a grand jury that eventually indicted two nurses. More heads have rolled since then. DeFede also assailed the U.S. government's cavalier attitude toward Haitian children, telling individual stories of Haitian kids stuck in immigration limbo, detained in hotel rooms, separated from family, and with little hope of receiving political asylum.