Radley Balko

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Radley Balko (born April 19, 1975) is an American journalist, author, blogger, and speaker who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and writes about criminal justice, the drug war, and civil liberties for The Washington Post.

Personal life and education

Balko is an atheist.[1] He earned a B.A. in journalism and political science in 1997 from Indiana University.[2]

Employment and publications

Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. Previously, he was a senior writer and investigative reporter for The Huffington Post,[3] a senior editor at Reason magazine, and a policy analyst for the Cato Institute, specializing in vice and civil liberties issues. He writes on drug policy, police misconduct, obesity, alcohol, tobacco, and civil liberties. He also writes on trade and globalization issues and more generally on politics and culture. He was also a biweekly columnist for Fox News from 2002 until 2009.[4] His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Playboy, TIME magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Reason, Worth magazine, Canada's National Post, and the Chicago Tribune. He blogs at The Agitator, his personal weblog, and for the Reason Hit and Run blog. He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.[5] He began writing an opinion blog at the Washington Post in January 2014.[6]

Balko's work on "no-knock" drug raids was profiled in The New York Times, and cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent in Hudson v. Michigan. He is credited with breaking and reporting the Cory Maye case; his work on the Maye case was cited by the Mississippi Supreme Court. He has also written extensively about the Ryan Frederick case and the raid on Cheye Calvo's home.[7]

Balko has advocated the abolition of laws criminalizing drunk driving, arguing that the "punishable act should be violating road rules or causing an accident, not the factors that led to those offenses. Singling out alcohol impairment for extra punishment isn't about making the roads safer".[8]

Balko has also authored two books on the topic of increasing militarization in police forces:

  • Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (PublicAffairs), 2013.[citation needed]
  • Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (Cato Institute), 2006.[9] According to Balko, during the 1970s, there were about 300 SWAT raids a year; however, "As of 2005...100 to 150 per day".[10]


In 2009, Balko's investigative report on expert witness fraud in a Louisiana death penalty case won the Western Publication Association’s Maggie Award for reporting.[3]

In 2011, The Week named Balko a finalist for Opinion Columnist of the Year.[3] Also in 2011, the Los Angeles Press Club named Balko Best of Show Journalist of the Year, the judges saying:

Radley Balko is one of those throw-back journalists that understands the power of groundbreaking reporting and how to make a significant impact through his work. Time and time again, his stories cause readers to stop, think, and most significantly, take action.[11][12]


Balko became involved in the classic game of attacking other media figures when he wrote a piece about Debbie Schlussel for Reason.com. In it he opined that the MSM had some principles:

I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet an MSM-er would have taken the time to email EldaRossel before posting a man's picture on the Internet and suggesting he's a mass murderer. Silly, America-hating media.

— Radley Balko[13]


  1. Balko, Radley (June 24, 2013). "Time's Joe Klein Takes Obligatory, Inaccurate Cheap Shot At Nonbelievers". Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Radley Balko: Media Fellow". Cato Institute.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Balko, Radley. "Radley Balko". Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Staff: Radley Balko". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Balko, Radley. "Personal Resume". Retrieved 2008-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Beaujon, Andrew (December 4, 2013). "Radley Balko will join Washington Post". The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Balko, Radley (September 20, 2009). "Cheye Calvo in the Washington Post". The Agitator.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Balko, Radley (October 11, 2010). "Abolish Drunk Driving Laws". Reason.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Balko, Radley. "Amazon.com radley balko: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved December 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Stossel, John. "Beware Warrior Cops". Newsmax. Retrieved December 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "53rd Journalism Awards Gala, June 26". Los Angeles Press Club. 2011. Reason Magazine’s Radley Balko, who was Print Journalist of the Year (circulation under 50,000) was named Best of Show Journalist of the Year and received $1,000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Welch, Matt (June 28, 2011). "Radley Balko Named "Journalist of the Year," Reason Wins Three Other First Place Prizes at the Southern California Journalism Awards". Bastiat Institute.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Radley Balko (April 18, 2007). "Debbie does Malice". Reason.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links