Levy, Clifford J. 1967-
LEVY, Clifford J. 1967-
Born June 15, 1967, in New Rochelle, NY; married; three children. Education: Princeton University, B.S., 1989.
Journalist. United Press International, New York, NY, reporter for New York bureau, 1989-90; New York Times, New York, NY, reporter, 1990—, special projects reporter, 2000—.
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Outstanding Media Awards, 2001, 2003; George Polk Award for regional reporting, 1998, 2002; Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, 2003.
Contributor of investigational articles to New York Times.
Clifford Levy, a 1989 graduate of Princeton University, began working for the prestigious New York Times as a news assistant in 1990 and in 1992 he was officially promoted to reporter. It was not long after the start of his journalism career that Levy became well known for his reportage on New York City goings-on. In 1998 Levy earned his first George Polk Award for regional reporting, honoring his coverage of the finance practices of certain well-known and prominent state officials.
Perhaps one of Levy's most revealing pieces was a three-part series that ran in the New York Times from April 28-30, 2002. Under the headlines "Broken Homes" Levy exposed the neglect and abuse suffered by the inhabitants of the many private homes for the mentally ill that are located within New York City. These private homes were originally intended to serve as an alternative refuge for individuals who would otherwise be left to the city's often overstaffed and poorly maintained state-run psychiatric hospitals. At first a solution to overcrowding, over time these private homes deteriorated to a state in which the quality of care is often no better than in the psychiatric hospitals they were created to outshine; in some cases, as Levy points out, care is even worse. In addition to heightening public awareness of the need for increased government intervention and investigation, Levy was also awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his efforts in revealing the city's psychiatric home scandal.
New York City's adult-home system has a total of 15,000 residents and costs taxpayers over $600 billion a year. In conducting his research Levy conducted over 200 interviews with workers, family members, and, most importantly, residents of the adult-home system. In addition to reviewing the mounting stacks of neglected state inspection reports, he also ventured into the homes themselves more than thirty-five times, and discovered that between the years 1995 and 2001 over 946 residents of the home system had died. Of these individuals, 326 were under age sixty. Not only did he discover hundreds of deaths unaccounted for or the result of suicide, but in addition he revealed evidence that records had been falsified: unreported was the fact that some residents engaged in criminal behavior, patients were given the wrong medications due to illiterate or uneducated attendants, and some residents were the subject of unnecessary surgeries and procedures, the sole purpose to gain extra Medicare or Medicaid funding.
Following the publication of Levy's article federal prosecutors began an investigation, while the New York health department pledged to reform the dismal service. A reviewer for the Washington Monthly commented that "Levy's work exposes the broken system that allows for-profit homes to manage and house the mentally ill with little or no government scrutiny." Gloria Cooper added in the Columbia Journalism Review: "It's a sad, familiar story, our inhuman treatment of humans who are mentally ill and poor. Does it need to be told again? Does it still have the power to shock? And, even if it does, will it do any good? The answer, as shown in Clifford J. Levy's ineffaceable report in The New York Times, is yes and yes and yes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Columbia Journalism Review, July-August 2002, Gloria Cooper,"No Rose Gardens Here," p. 15.
Mental Health Weekly, April 14, 2003, p. 7.
Washington Monthly, June, 2002, p. 45.
Pulitzer Prize Web site,http://www.pulitzer.org/ (May 14, 2003), "Clifford J. Levy."*