Criminal justice reporter Nicholas Chrastil joins The Lens as a full-time reporter this week.

Nick has been working part-time since last year, covering criminal justice policy, New Orleans criminal courts and the District Attorney’s office. In December, he authored a three-part deep dive on the 1988 murder trial of Erin Hunter, which The Lens co-published with The Atavist. More recently, he was the reporter behind The Section G Project, a multipart series on the life and career of New Orleans Judge Frank Shea. Nick narrated the accompanying podcast miniseries, The Section G Podcast.

In light of recent events, The Lens has temporarily suspended The Section G Project and podcast. Nick has pivoted to covering the criminal justice system during this unprecedented crisis. He will continue that work — keeping close watch on the civil and human rights issues that already are raising their heads in the early days of this crisis — as the situation progresses. Nick will also be covering the upcoming District Attorney’s race, the backdrop of criminal justice reform and the legacy of District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Prior to joining The Lens, Nick worked as a freelancer reporter. His work has appeared in Slate, Undark and Mother Jones, among other outlets. Chrastil has a master’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University, where his research focused on New Orleans’ newspapers during the Reconstruction era. During his time at LSU, he also covered the Louisiana state legislature as part of the Manship Statehouse Bureau. He is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

You can contact Nick with news tips and other information at

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...