Evidence surfaces in inmate death, report sparks open records action at Texas Capitol

When 21-year-old Herman Titus died in custody at a Texas county jail, his mother wanted to know why.  When she tried to get information from the sheriff’s and county attorney’s offices, officials cited an obscure loophole to the Texas Public Information Act and blocked her request.  An investigation from KXAN found that the same loophole…

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Police officers convicted of serious crimes still on the job

The Star Tribune found more than 500 Minnesota police officers, including 143 who are still on the job, with criminal convictions. Less than one-quarter were disciplined by the state’s licensing board.   The paper matched names and dates of birth of licensed police officers against the state’s conviction database, requested hundreds of pages of police and…

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Governing goes off the record in Minnesota

Secrecy is emerging as a reflex at all levels of government in Minnesota and across the nation. Mounting demands for corporate confidentiality, individual privacy and security have dramatically restricted the public’s right to know. Lobbyists representing local governments, law enforcement, and businesses are chipping away at Minnesota’s public records law. State legislators have added hundreds…

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Ohio State shields access to records others deem public

The Columbus Dispatch found that Ohio State University has a record of shielding many types of vital information from public scrutiny. This can include information on things like how the university spends public money or protects students from criminals on campus.  Reporters analyzed five years of public-records requests made to Ohio State, and found that…

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CDC keeps details secret of lab mishaps with deadly viruses, bacteria

After taking nearly two years to release copies of its lab accident reports under the Freedom of Information Act, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping secret large swaths of information when accidents occur with potential bioterror pathogens like those that cause anthrax, Ebola, and plague. The latest installment of USA TODAY’s ongoing…

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New interpretation forever seals police investigative records

The Iowa Department of Public Safety has been using a controversial interpretation of a 45-year old law to deny public records requests, a Des Moines Register investigation found. The department says the law allows them to keep records collected as part of an investigation confidential forever. The interpretation, which is relatively new, has been used…

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Do all 390 inmates on Florida’s death row belong there?

Florida’s death row is the second largest in the nation, but the state for the last several years has not maintained a list of death penalty verdicts or outcomes. The Villages Daily Sun pieced together that information on all 390 capital cases, building a database from digital and physical case files. The 18-month investigation shows…

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Indiana’s adult protective services program leaves vulnerable adults exposed to exploitation, abuse, neglect

An investigation by the Indianapolis Star found that the state agency responsible for protecting vulnerable adults has exposed thousands to abuse and neglect as a result of overwhelmed investigators.  The paper used public records requests to compare Indiana’s Adult Protective Services with similar agencies across the country. Among their findings: Indiana has up to 20…

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After $100 million in budget cuts, violence is on the rise in Florida’s mental hospitals

An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune found that violent attacks at Florida’s six largest mental hospitals have doubled since 2009. Nearly 1,000 patients hurt themselves or someone else. At least 15 people died. Reporters spent more than a year talking to patients and their relatives; examining police, government and hospital…

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Massachusetts child abuse and neglect deaths steadily increasing

At least 110 Massachusetts children 17 and younger died from abuse or neglect between 2009 and 2013, according to reporting by The New England Center for Investigative Reporting. A third of these kids had at some point been under the watch of the state Department of Children and Families. Many others were likely known to…

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