Extra Extra : February 2007

Ballooning cost of senior judges

Brandon Ortiz of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader analyzed court records to show that Kentucky's judicial retirement system will pay out at least $1.57 million this year to compensate retired judges who work part-time to ease court backlogs. That's far more than the $420,000 agreed to seven years ago. "That revelation raises questions about whether the program will hurt the judicial retirement fund's long-term health, thus requiring larger subsidies by the state in the future." The retirement system's director denied theHerald-Leader's request for detailed records of service credits that determine the judges' pensions ... Read more ...

Selling innocence

Scott Zamost and Jeff Burnside of WTVJ-South Florida update the 2001 "Selling Innocence" investigation by interviewing Savannah Haile, now 12 years old. Pictures of Haile were posted on a so-called "child-modeling" Web site without her consent, and her story became part of the WTVJ stories. The report exposed the two men behind the Florida-based Web site, and they currently face child pornography charges.

Sex offenders found in school safety zones

Chris Halsne of KIRO-Seattle used a computer analysis to locate more than 900 known child rapists and molesters living inside "school protection zones." Using mapping software, KIRO Team 7 Investigators plotted addresses of every school and every registered sex offender convicted of violating a child. Despite the fact that last June, state lawmakers ruled that convicted pedophiles must live at least 880 feet away from a school, the investigation located at least 100 convicted pedophiles living near schools. (IRE and NICAR contributed to the data analysis for this story.)

More tired truckers on South Carolina roads

Andy Pierrotti of WCBD-Charleston looked at every South Carolina truck accident report that noted a fatigued or sleeping truck driver as a contributing factor. He discovered a 75 percent increase in such crashes from 2001 to 2005. Those fatigued drivers contributed to 158 accidents that killed nine people and left more than 100 injured. "Despite property damage, loss of life, and injuries, only 42 percent of those tired truckers were never ticketed." State transport police say the biggest problem with tired truckers in the state lies in the number of interstate rest stops. There are simply not enough rest stops ... Read more ...

Investigation launched, repairs started after report on Walter Reed

In their continued coverage of conditions at Walter Reed, Dana Priest and Anne Hull of The Washington Post report that while Michael J. Wagner directed the Medical Family Assistance Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he also was seeking funders and soliciting donations for his own new charity, based in Dallas, according to documents and interviews with current and former staff members. Walter Reed launched a criminal investigation of Wagner last week after The Post sought a response to his charitable activities while also running ... Read more ...

Unpoliced use of force plagues Milwaukee police department

Reporter John Diedrich of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed the Milwaukee police department is inadequate in its tracking of the use of force. The article documented the record of an officer who was with the department for just three years but racked up a record of using force and attracted complaints far in excess of fellow officers. In three of the cases, the officer hit people with a flashlight. The department says it knew about this officer but did nothing. The story also showed Milwaukee

Despite fire safety issues, apartment complex remained open

Marines in Iraq angered by lack of proper equipment

A report by Richard Lardner of the Tampa Tribune indicates that "civilian casualties in Iraq's volatile Anbar province would have been greatly reduced over the past 20 months if an inexpensive, hand-held laser system had been sent to the Marines operating there, according to a series of e-mail messages between troops in the field and acquisition officials in suburban Washington." Two requests by the Marine officials in Iraq have gone unfilled since 2005; officials at Marine Corps Base Quantico cite inadequate testing and safety reviews of the laser systems.

"The Other Walter Reed"

In a two part series, Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull uncover dismal conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 ½ years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients." Priest and Hall interviewed patients, families, veterans aid groups and former Walter Reed staff for four months without permission from Walter Reed officials. Part one and two.