Resource Center

Stories

 

 

 

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories — both print and broadcast.

These stories are searchable online or by contacting the Resource Center directly (573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org) where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Browse or search the tipsheet section of our library below. Stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center.

 

 

 



Search results for "state records" ...

  • DCS Under Fire

    DCS Under Fire is a collection of stories representing WREG’s coverage of problems at the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Our team began an in-depth investigation into the child welfare agency more than a year ago. The very agency charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable had kids dying on its watch. We exposed unexplained deaths, questionable actions by case workers as well as failed technology and policies. Our continuous coverage raised concerns from parents, advocates and lawmakers. Since the start of our investigation, and later a court battle for access to public records, DCS has overhauled its staff and changed a number of policies and procedures to better protect children in its care.

    Tags: Department of Children Services; Welfare; Death; Abuse

    By Zaneta Lowe

    WREG-TV (Memphis, Tenn.)

    2013

  • Iowa Juvenile Home

    The stories initially examined the illegal use of physical restraints and long-term isolation cells at the Iowa Juvenile Home, an unlicensed and largely unregulated state-run facility that provides housing, schooling and treatment for children with serious behavioral problems. The Register discovered that state workers were routinely confining children as young as 13 to unfurnished, 10-foot-by-12-foot concrete-block isolation cells in the basement of the home’s schoolhouse. One girl spent almost a full year in one such cell. Court records showed the home had been using long-term isolation, sometimes in direct violation of a judge’s order, for at least 17 years. Former residents of the home, and their legal advocates, agreed to speak to the Register on the record, and on video, about the isolation cells and the manner in which they were used. Over the next five months,the Register published a string of exclusives that uncovered other abuses and failings within the home, leading to the governor's decision in December to close the 50-year-old facility.

    Tags: Iowa Juvenile Home; Children

    By Clark Kauffman

    Des Moines Register

    2013

  • In The Name Of The Law

    This 5-part series examines the secrecy surrounding police misconduct in Hawaii and the effect that lack of disclosure has on the public. In1995, after local college journalists had fought and won a court battle to gain access to police disciplinary files, the politically powerful statewide police union convinced the Legislature to keep the records out of public view. We wanted to explore the effects of this major public policy decision and, nearly 20 years later, determine if police and other government officials were doing a good job overseeing misconduct and ensuring that the public was being protected from bad cops. Since the public can’t scrutinize police behavior themselves, we wanted to see what safeguards are in place so we can be confident our police officers, with their extraordinary power over ordinary citizens, are professional and competent. It turns out that police officers throughout the state are regularly disciplined for egregious offenses -- violence, lying, even criminal convictions. But there’s no way to know if they are being effectively disciplined, and it appears police administrators are at the mercy of strong union contracts. Local police commissions and prosecutors either ignore serious cases or can’t do anything about them under the current system.

    Tags: None

    By Nick Grube; Patti Epler

    Honolulu Civil Beat

    2013

  • Merchants of Meth

    I exposed a concerted and well-funded campaign by the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies to defeat bills in Congress and state legislatures that were aimed at stopping the spread of toxic methamphetamine labs. At issue? Pseudoephedrine sales. The popular decongestant is the one key ingredient needed to make homemade meth. It also generates revenue for major pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck of more than $600 million a year. Fuelled by easy access to pseudoephedrine, the number of meth labs in the United States has increased by more than 60 percent since 2007. Thanks in large part to pharmaceutical industry lobbying, there has been no federal legislation to address the spread of meth labs since 2005. In 2006, Oregon successfully moved to restrict meth cooks’ access to pseudoephedrine by making it a prescription drug, despite heavy lobbying against the bill from the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, the number of meth labs in the state has fallen drastically—by more than 90 percent. Faced with the mounting social, law enforcement, and environmental costs associated with meth, legislators in at least 25 other states sought to pass similar laws. But pharmaceutical lobbyists fought back, and in all but one state—Mississippi—the bills were defeated. My reporting examined how the industry has set state lobbying spending records as it has deployed a new kind of lobbying strategy to block regulation of pseudoephedrine. Instead of focusing their efforts on courting politicians, they have taken their message directly to voters, deploying thousands of robocalls in key electoral districts and large ad buys in major media markets for advertising across multiple platforms from radio to the Internet. Their messaging, I found, was deceptive, failing to even mention that the proposed bills had to do with combatting the meth epidemic. I also examined the results of an electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking database known as NPLEx, which is meant to prevent excessive purchasing. While it’s the only reform to ever earn backing from the pharmaceutical industry, I found a system full of holes that has been ineffective at preventing the spread of meth labs in virtually every state that has adopted it.

    Tags: Pharmaceutics; Methamphetamine;

    By Jonah Engle

    Mother Jones

    2013

  • Exposing Missouri's Secret Execution Drug Source

    For the past several months, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra have been investigating Missouri's execution process and the legal and ethical questions around how the state is obtaining its execution drug. Since most drug manufacturers don’t want their products used for lethal injection, Missouri has had to go to great lengths to find a supply. In October, our reporting uncovered that the state had turned to an unauthorized distributor. Then, at the direction of Missouri’s Governor, the Department of Corrections switched to a different execution drug. But they didn’t stop there – they also changed the rules to make it illegal to reveal the source of the drug. After at least a dozen open records requests and numerous interviews with pharmacy experts, our investigation has revealed that the state is obtaining its drug from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy that isn’t licensed in Missouri. Under normal circumstances, that could be a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Our reporting has led lawyers representing Missouri’s death row inmates to file a complaint with the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, demanding they stop the state from illegal importation of its execution drug. And several state lawmakers have called for an appointed commission to investigate the Department of Corrections, and for executions to be put on hold while the General Assembly looks into the issue.

    Tags: Lethal injection;

    By Veronique LaCapra; Chris McDaniel

    STLPR

    2013

  • Goliad's $1 Million Mess

    A six-month Victoria Advocate investigation revealed a program started to promote economic development has instead been riddled with poor record-keeping, questionable loan practices, missing documents and virtually no accountability. The newspaper's investigation prompted the state's top law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, to investigate the town. That investigation is ongoing. The Advocate's investigation learned: • Since 2008, the development board has collected $525,624 in sales tax. It spent more than $1 million during those same five years, but the city does not accurately record the money. • Few on the board received economic development training. No one kept accurate records. No one accepts responsibility. • Three City Council members had loans while on the council. All three defaulted.

    Tags: Texas Rangers; Fraud; City Council

    By Chris Cobler

    Victoria Advocate

    2013

  • Gun permit loopholes

    Nobody Denied is an unprecedented review of how a change in Iowa law two years ago resulted in nearly 150,000 people obtaining permits to carry guns in public, including people who are blind or registered as sex offenders. The law change was prompted by the desire to standardize Iowa’s weapon permit system, which had been riddled with disparities between counties. But the quickly passed law also contains loopholes that had been previously ignored or overlooked. Noteworthy in this series is the massive number of public record requests the series required. This investigation involved two separate record requests to each of Iowa’s 99 counties in addition to many records requests of the state’s public safety department.

    Tags: Gun permits

    By Jason Clayworth

    Des Moines Register

    2013

  • The Lethal Legacy of Cluster Bombs

    This series of stories examined the political and human cost of Canada’s controversial approach towards ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It detailed how Canada had aligned itself with the United States, which has opted out of the CCM, and it explored the lethal legacy of U.S. cluster bomb use that is still being felt in Laos, four decades after the end of the of Vietnam War. This series broke news in the corridors of the United Nations in Geneva, including a rare on-the-record interview with a senior official with the scrupulously neutral International Committee of the Red Cross criticizing Canada’s position on the issue. These stories also reflected unprecedented access to the closed communist government of Laos, interviewing top officials who had never before talked to a Western journalist. This series gave voice to impoverished Laotian villagers who are threatened by these unexploded munitions, and they explained the larger economic and social implication of this lethal legacy of the long-ended Vietnam War. It also showed the U.S. influence over one of its closest allies in how it approached an important piece of foreign policy.

    Tags: Convention on Cluster Munitions; Laos; foreign policy

    By Mike Blanchfield

    The Canadian Press

    2013

  • Public Service, Private Benefit

    This two-year-long investigation by AP reporter Mike Baker focuses on a Washington state retirement system for law enforcement officers and firefighters, exploring how some retirees managed to spike their pension values with late raises, how exorbitant medical expenses in the system are hampering local governments, how extreme numbers of disability retirements are costing the government tax revenue, and how some have been able to secure retire-rehire deals despite state efforts to stop such arrangements. The series is based on more than 100 public records requests, many dozens of interviews, the analysis of more than 30 government datasets and the review of thousands of pages of government emails, meeting notes, contracts and actuarial reports. Lawmakers, state officials and a pension oversight board have all taken action in response to the AP series, and the state Legislature is expected to consider alterations to the system during the 2014 session. Leaders in the state retirement system have conducted a variety of audits targeting the cases identified in AP’s stories and are now seeking to collect overpayments and recalculate benefits for some of those former workers. State officials believe they can collect or save nearly $1 million as a result of investigations completed so far, and the state expects to announce additional enforcement actions in the coming months.

    Tags: Retirement; pension oversight

    By Mike Baker

    Associated Press

    2013

  • Congressional Rents

    Inside Edition’s report on “Congressional Rents” is an unprecedented investigation that uncovered case after case of US Congressmen overpaying rent for their congressional offices to fat-cat campaign donors. The rent money comes from their Member’s Representation Allowance (MRA) which is funded by tax dollars. Reporters and researchers for Inside Edition exhaustively examined tens of thousands of documents, including Secretary of State corporate records, Federal Election Commission campaign donor databases, and the Statement of Disbursements for the US House of Representatives to help uncover the shady leases for their congressional offices.

    Tags: None

    By Larry Posner

    Inside Edition (New York)

    2013