Samantha Melamed

Increasing Public Attention on Philadelphia’s Youth Justice System

Samantha Melamed is a Stoneleigh Fellow on the investigations team at The Philadelphia Inquirer. In this role, she is increasing public attention on the youth justice system through a year-long effort of focused and in-depth investigative journalism.

Samantha is a twenty-year veteran journalist and has served as a reporter with The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than a decade. She has reported extensively on every aspect of the youth justice system, including: its intersection with school discipline for truancy; abuses in juvenile facilities; and the use of high bail to keep young people in the adult system confined awaiting trial. She has also reported on the unwinding of Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional practice of sentencing youth to life without parole, on conditions in prison and youth detention, and on the mental health consequences of solitary confinement. Her groundbreaking series on problems within Pennsylvania’s probation system won the 2020 Hillman Prize for Newspaper Journalism and led to a series of local reforms.

She has been the recipient of the Kiplinger Fellowship for multimedia and digital journalism training at The Ohio State University and has also received specialized training on covering jails and prisons from the Poynter Institute. Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Vice News, and Philadelphia magazine.

Samantha holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and fine art from the University of Pennsylvania.

Stoneleigh Fellow

2024 – 2025

The Philadelphia Inquirer / Lenfest Institute


See how Samantha is Advancing the Field