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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "criminal justice" ...

  • Free to Shoot Again

    In cities from coast to coast, the odds that a shooter will be brought to justice are abysmally low and dropping. Police make an arrest in fewer than half of the murders committed with firearms. If the victim survives being shot, the chance of arrest drops to 1 out of 3. Staffing constraints are so dire at many police departments that thousands of nonfatal shooting cases are never even assigned a detective. The shooters are left free to strike again, fueling cycles of violence and eroding the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Trace, in partnership with BuzzFeed News and later WTTW, published “Free to Shoot Again,” a series of stories that interrogates this failure in policing and the toll that it takes on the people who live in the communities most impacted by gun violence.
  • Tarnished Brass

    In the name of protecting men and women in uniform, states across the country have made it nearly impossible to identify dangerous law enforcement officers with a track record of violence and other misdeeds. Records detailing their misconduct often are filed away, rarely seen by anyone outside of the department. Police unions and their political allies have worked to put special protections in place ensuring some records are shielded from public view, or even destroyed. A national tracking system for backgrounding officers is incomplete and not available to the public. More than two years ago, USA TODAY and its network of newsrooms across the nation set out to change that. More than two dozen reporters began collecting public records from the communities they covered and beyond. Also contributing substantially to the record-gathering was the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization in Chicago that focuses on issues around policing tactics and criminal justice. We pieced together lists of decertified officers in more than 40 states. We collected logs and paper records related to 110,000 internal affairs investigations. We gathered information on 14,000 lawsuits against departments and fought to obtain so-called Brady lists, documenting officers flagged for lying and other misdeeds. Then we scoured story archives from our newsrooms and others to piece together the most comprehensive list of police misconduct cases ever built.
  • An Innocent Man?

    Newsday’s multi-media investigation “An Innocent Man?” was the first to reveal widespread wrongdoing by Suffolk law-enforcement authorities in the 1975 Keith Bush murder conviction, one of the longest-running “innocent man” cases in U.S. history. In a year-long investigation, Newsday reporter Thomas Maier detailed: how police allegedly beat a false confession out of then-17-year-old Bush for the 1975 sex-related murder of schoolmate Sherese Watson; how forensic experts offered flawed evidence about Bush’s guilt and later lost the alleged murder weapon; how the prosecution’s main witness against Bush later recanted and said she made up all of her testimony; how DNA evidence pointing to Bush’s innocence was rejected; and, mostly significantly, how Bush’s trial prosecutor covered-up evidence of another potential suspect, John W. Jones Jr., who placed himself at the murder scene. That evidence about Jones remained a secret and Bush was convicted and sent to prison for 33 years. Newsday’s investigation began in June 2018 and the resulting 15,000-word print report and an accompanying documentary were published together in May 2019. Shortly afterward, a report by the current Suffolk County district attorney concluded that Bush had been wrongly convicted and a judge vacated his sentence – 44 years later. Several follow-ups by Newsday detailed reaction to the Bush case and were reflected in an updated documentary, written by Maier and edited by Newsday owner Patrick Dolan, which was posted on December 31, 2019. Maier’s painstaking work – which involved dozens of interviews and thousands of pages of legal documents – shed light on a tragic incident in the past and helped result in other similar cases receiving a thorough investigation.
  • Trading Away Justice

    Guilty pleas have become the go-to solution for the nation’s overburdened courts. They account for nine of every 10 convictions in the United States. But our near-total reliance on plea bargaining has created a parallel justice system -- one without the constitutional safeguards of trials, that operates largely in secret and with little oversight. Through case studies and data analysis, “Trading Away Justice” documents how even innocent defendants are being pressured into pleading guilty.
  • Murder with Impunity

    Whether your murder is solved can sometimes depend on where you're killed. The Post found disparities in who gets justice and who's still waiting.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • NationSwell: Forgotten Victims

    An investigation by NationSwell looked at county data in six states — Arizona, New Jersey, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas — which showed that thousands of families are denied compensation each year because of the contributory conduct clause. Regulators involved in processing claims say they are just following federal law and that there needs to be top-down change in order for there to be significant progress on the best way to assist financially strapped families. But one victim services group, Every Murder Is Real, based in Philadelphia — i.e. the city with the highest number of compensation claims filed each year in Pennsylvania — is helping families navigate the system and fight for their right to fair treatment.
  • WEWS-TV: Evading Justice

    The Ohio sex offender registry is supposed to help keep the public safe by providing access to information about convicts who have committed serious sexual offenses. But our extensive six-month-long investigation uncovered a loophole used by prosecutors and judges in one of the largest counties in the state that results in many accused rapists evading the registry. We found oftentimes the justice system allows suspects charged with rape to plead down to lesser and even completely unrelated charges – in a three-year period, there were more than 100 accused rapists who pleaded guilty to abduction, assault and endangering children, which allowed them to avoid registering as sex offenders. We also found many of those same defendants went on to be charged with another sexual offense after they evaded the registry, showing how this practice can put the public at risk.
  • WCPO: DNA Delay

    A tip from a rape victim leads WCPO Investigative Reporter Hillary Lake to uncover a DNA testing delay at the Kentucky State Crime Lab affecting thousands of new criminal cases, from assaults to rapes to murders, waiting on results to move forward in the justice system. The investigation leads to action from the Kentucky attorney general.
  • Washington Post: Murder with Impunity

    The Washington Post’s examination of unsolved murder in America began with a simple question: Where does justice for victims go unserved? To answer that, The Post produced ‘Murder with Impunity’ an investigative video series, based on the reporting of a team of journalists that compiled case-level information for more than 50,000 homicides in 50 of the nation’s largest cities.