Scott Christianson, beloved husband of Tamar Gordon and devoted father of Kelly, Emily and Jonah died suddenly on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Scott had a storied career as an author, scholar, journalist, state official and human rights activist, specializing in prison, the death penalty, opioids, forensics, and American history and politics. He is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles, including “With Liberty for Some,” an RFK Distinguished Honors recipient.
He grew up in New England and upstate New York and started to write for publications when he was in high school. While in his twenties, he worked for several newspapers and was profiled as “one of the nation’s top 20 investigative reporters.” He has contributed hundreds of articles to The New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, Village Voice, Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, Scripps Howard News Service, Mother Jones, Playboy, Pacific News Service, and written for community radio, TV and film. He was a frequent contributor and adviser to The Berkshire Edge.
A graduate of the University of Connecticut, he studied investigative reporting at the American Press Institute at Columbia University, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany in Criminal Justice. As an academic he directed numerous research projects and taught and lectured at many universities and institutes, including Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown, and the John F. Kennedy Library. He has published many scholarly monographs and articles in law, criminal justice, history, journalism, sociology and psychology journals. Some of his work has been cited by the United States Supreme Court.
He held several positions in New York state criminal justice system, including as director of prison investigations for the state’s corrections watchdog agency, executive assistant to the State Director of Criminal Justice, deputy director of probation and correctional alternatives, and deputy director of parole operations. He spent seven years as a gubernatorial aide. After leaving government he worked for several advocacy and reform organizations and returned to full-time writing.
He has won numerous awards for his journalism, writing, government service and community service. He has appeared on CBS Evening News, ABC World News, CNN, C-Span, the History Channel, BBC, NPR, ARD and local TV and radio. He was very recently hired at McClatchy, where he was deep into writing the most important stories of our day. Scott is widely known and admired for his fearless truth-telling, passion for social justice and deep, loving soul. He was one of those rare human beings who made a difference every single day. His investigative reporting helped to gain the release of 12 wrongfully convicted prisoners and the end of the death penalty in New York.
As his family grieves, he will also be deeply missed by his vast circle of colleagues and friends. He is survived by his wife, Tamar Gordon, his three children, Kelly, Emily and Jonah, his grandson, Sawyer Whitney, his father, Keith Christianson and siblings, Susie, Carol and Peter.
Funeral services will be held at Finnerty and Stevens, 426 South Main St., in Great Barrington at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.