Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "criminal background checks" ...

  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • Taxi regulation

    The Honolulu Star-Advertiser examined the city's taxi industry and found lax criminal background checks, a broken city complaint hotline and loose oversight. City and state leaders immediately proposed reforms that would make the industry more effective, ethical, transparent and safe for consumers.
  • Trail of Troubles

    One doctor’s sexual assault charges led reporter Scott Dance to uncover the state’s lack of oversight of the criminal backgrounds of Maryland’s doctors. Maryland does not conduct criminal background checks of its doctors despite at least one attempt to require them. Dr. William Dando was one doctor who fell through the cracks. He was convicted of rape in the 1980s, and came to Maryland to pursue his medical career after his release. Fast forward to 2014, and the same doctor was accused of sexually assaulting several patients. Dance traced Dando’s time in Maryland and all of the ways his past could have been discovered, but state regulatory agencies and medical boards failed to investigate. After Dance’s articles appeared, Dando agreed to give up his license so that Maryland charges would be dropped, an inspector general highlighted flaws in licensing procedures,and the Maryland Board of Physicians proposed legislation to require background checks.
  • Trail of Troubles

    One doctor’s sexual assault charges led reporter Scott Dance to uncover the state’s lack of oversight of the criminal backgrounds of Maryland’s doctors. Maryland does not conduct criminal background checks of its doctors despite at least one attempt to require them. Dr. William Dando was one doctor who fell through the cracks. He was convicted of rape in the 1980s, and came to Maryland to pursue his medical career after his release. Fast forward to 2014, and the same doctor was accused of sexually assaulting several patients. Dance traced Dando’s time in Maryland and all of the ways his past could have been discovered, but state regulatory agencies and medical boards failed to investigate.
  • Criminal Cab Drivers

    This story reveals that “hundreds of criminals are behind the wheels of Houston cabs”. This is allowed to happen because if it falls outside of a 10 year period it won’t show up and they are allowed to get their cab license. It has become a standard on criminal background checks because people can change and straighten up their lives. But when one of these cab drivers commits a crime as a driver, people begin to question these tactics.
  • Betrayal of Trust

    This project focused on sexual abuse by teachers and other school employees against minors. The investigation found that potentially abusive teachers can slip through the cracks due to inadequate tracking of teachers by the state Department of Education, incomplete criminal background checks and poor communication among schools, courts and law enforcement agencies.
  • School Felons

    In this investigation of non-teaching school workers in Cleveland, Ohio, it was found that more than a dozen have felony records. Many were child molesters, drug dealers, and elderly abusers. It was also found that criminal background checks were done randomly...less than five hundred random checks a year...which meant over four thousand employees were not checked. As a result to this investigation, a computer program tracking criminal records in over 70 jurisdictions was donated and ex-con workers were fired.
  • No Record Found

    WTHR Eyewitness News Investigators made a troubling discovery that threatens public safety: Indiana State Police criminal background checks often fail to show the record of dangerous criminals - including child molesters, burglars, and even murderers. Last year alone, the system was used 300,000 times by schools, daycares, nursing homes, and youth leagues.
  • Teachers' Dirty Look

    After 40 school teachers had been fired and 50 others under investigation for sexual misconduct with students, the Boston Magazine finds out a loophole because of which these teachers could have criminal records elsewhere and can still be hired. These offenders benefit from the fact that the Massachusetts criminal background checks only occur within the state and not in any other state.
  • Criminals to the Rescue

    A three-month, computer-assisted investigation of Florida's EMTs and paramedics revealed that the state certified hundreds of felons with violent criminal records to work as emergency care providers, despite convictions for violent crimes such as rape, child abuse, and even murder. It was discovered that these people were getting certified because the Florida Department of Health does not perform any type of criminal background check on its applicants.