The International Documentary Association announced the podcast series “Suave” from independent producer Futuro Studios and public media organization PRX won the IDA Documentary Award in the Best Multi-Part Audio Documentary Or Series category.
“Suave” is a seven-part podcast series about the criminal justice system that sentences juveniles to life in prison — particularly young men of color — and what happens when, decades later, they’re suddenly granted one more chance at freedom.
The IDA Documentary Award was accepted during the awards’ 37th annual ceremony by David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez, whose story is featured in the “Suave” podcast.
In 1988, Gonzalez was found guilty of a first-degree homicide committed when he was 17 years old. A Philadelphia judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At Graterford State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, Suave joined the largest population of juvenile lifers in the country, young men considered by the U.S. justice system to be “irredeemable.” Then, in 2016, a Supreme Court decision changed everything. After expecting to die in prison, suddenly Gonzalez had another chance at freedom.
Released in 2017 and now in his 50s, the series follows Suave as he transitions to life on the outside and tries to live as a model citizen, yet he soon realizes there are limits to how much freedom he can ever truly have. Journalist Maria Hinojosa––who has communicated with Gonzalez for nearly 30 years––also realizes there are limits to how much she can help as he navigates the realities of conditional freedom. As the team explores racism and corruption in the legal system, and the more Hinojosa learns about Gonzalez’s crime, the more they question the events that put him in prison in the first place, and the system that continues to put children away for life.
“We had extraordinary competition from brilliant journalists but I believe the ‘Suave’ story has a tremendous amount of heart and human connection and even hopefulness,” said Maria Hinojosa, executive producer of ‘Suave,’ host of “Latino USA,” and founder of Futuro Media. “I see this recognition as a message to young journalists to trust their gut – I didn’t know thirty years ago that “Suave” would be an award-winning podcast. I connected with this young man’s humanity. I am grateful for Suave who opened himself up in the most vulnerable way and allowed us to tell his story unfiltered. This is one of the greatest moments in my career.”
“It’s an honor winning the IDA Documentary Award because it means juvenile justice is on the frontline,” said David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez. “America can no longer deny the fact that our justice system is broken. For me, the “Suave” podcast is so much bigger than my story — it represents the injustice millions of Black and Brown people suffer daily when dealing with the carceral system.”