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 "prison" ...

  • Pregnant Detainees in Immigration Detention

    Women caught up in America’s immigration detention complex are some of the most vulnerable in the world. As policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that pregnant women should be put on house arrest while fighting their deportation cases, rather than detained in prison-like facilities. After they told us repeatedly that they “don’t detain pregnant women” we found quite the contrary. Through serialized reporting, Fusion uncovered that nearly 600 pregnant detainees were held in detention centers in the last two years. Women that we spoke with said they were severely underfed and denied basic prenatal treatment. As the reporter and producer on the project, I, Cristina Costantini, uncovered that the agency even initially lied about a miscarriage that occurred in one detention center.
  • Battered, Bereaved, and Behind Bars

    This story exposes what many believe is a grievous injustice: Dozens of battered women have been locked away for a decade or more because they failed to prevent the men who battered them from also beating their children. BuzzFeed News found 28 cases in 11 states where mothers were sentenced to 10 years or more in prison under "failure-to-protect" laws despite evidence they were battered. More than a dozen are in prison for 20 years or more, and several are in on longer sentences than the men convicted of committing the abuse. And there are likely more out there.
  • Inmates making insiders wealthy

    Privately owned and operated work-release programs are a new fad in corrections. Work-release programs tend to reduce recidivism rates and inmates are able to save some money while in prison so they don’t re-enter the real world penniless. Privately run programs, according to proponents, are superior to those run by public entities, because private operators take a percentage of inmate wages and are thus incentivized to find the best possible jobs for inmates. However, as The Advocate’s stories have shown, the private companies that get this work tend to be politically connected, and they don’t have any real incentive to provide quality housing or food or to prevent escapes. They chronicled problems with escapes, drug use and even death at one outfit run by friends of the sheriff of St. Tammany Parish, a New Orleans suburb. That facility was shut down after our reporting (which the sheriff called “reckless”). As another direct result of their investigation, the state secretary of the Department of Corrections announced that in the future, work-release programs would only get contracts after undergoing a competitive process.
  • Sell Block: The empty promises of prison labor

    Our state’s glossy marketing brochures and polished YouTube videos told a story that everyone wanted to believe: Washington Correctional Industries, a for-profit arm of the state prison system, would employ inmates in its factories to make goods for government agencies while paying for itself. The program would teach prisoners new skills so that after release they’d more easily find jobs, thereby lowering crime. It was a wonderful success story, but, unfortunately, it was mostly untrue. Behind the nation’s fourth-largest inmate labor program, our reporters found a broken system that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, charged exorbitant markups on goods that state agencies are required to buy, and taken jobs from private businesses that can’t compete with cheap prison labor. “Sell Block: The Empty Promises of Prison Labor” is the first investigative project about this growing industry
  • Of Natural Causes: Death in Illinois Prisons

    When WBEZ reported in 2011 and 2012 on prison conditions in Illinois we were struck by the number of complaints regarding the lack of healthcare in the Illinois Department of Corrections. They reported some of the worst cases (and there were many) like Christopher Clingingsmith who told the prison doctor that his jaw was broken but medical records show he recieved no care for 8 weeks. By that point his jaw had to be rebroken to fix it. The healthcare in Illinois prisons is provided by a private company that has a 1.4 billion dollar contract with the state but that company doesn’t seem to do a very good job providing the care that taxpayers have paid for. Given the horror stories we heard they wondered how many people were dying inside because of a lack of care. The reporting analyzed the cases of inmates who died while serving sentences in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
  • Without funds to pay fines, minor incidents can mean jail time

    Most Americans probably wouldn’t believe that they could be thrown in jail simply for not being able to afford to pay a fine. After all, debtor’s prisons were outlawed in the United States in the 1830’s. But a PBS NewsHour Weekend investigation found that in Alabama alone, an estimated 1,000 people are going to jail every month for that very reason. And it’s a practice that is now happening across the country. PBS NewsHour Weekend conducted a 6 month investigation into Judicial Corrections Services, a company hired by cities across Alabama, to collect fines owed. Judicial Correction Services’ pitch to these cities was simple: we’ll collect fines owed at no cost to city coffers. The catch, though, is that JCS will charge the “offender” a monthly fee until the debt is fully paid off. The cost is passed on to the “offender”, who often times can’t even afford to pay the initial fine, let alone the added fees.
  • Mental Lockdown

    Born Jan. 4, 1992, Ryan Allison would spend almost the last half of his life in locked-down institutions because of his mental illness. In 2014, the 22-year-old Allison took his own life by diving off head first from a sink or toilet fixture in a suicide watch cell in the prison's mental health unit. Allison is an example of how inmates struggle with mental illness from behind bars. The Utah Legislature is currently considering a historic investment in criminal justice reform, including funding community mental-health treatment centers.
  • Dying at Opp

    "Dying at OPP" examined how the troubled Orleans Parish Prison, Louisiana’s largest lockup for pre-trial suspects, handled inmate deaths. The series exposed institutional failings and indifference that persist despite the jail being under a court order mandating widespread reforms. After the series, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, called in outside law enforcement agencies to investigate the latest inmate fatality -- only the second time in at least a decade that an outside law enforcement was called in to review a jail death. The series also led to major policy changes at the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office. Our series exposed a lack of autopsies when inmates died at a hospital after becoming ill or injured in jail. The coroner now requires his pathologists conduct autopsies in those cases.
  • There’s not a list

    Under Colorado’s “lifetime” sentencing laws, sex offenders were supposed to remain in prison until they successfully completed a rigorous mental/behavioral health program. The intent was to fully rehabilitate them and prevent recidivism. Through months of research, 9Wants to Know also uncovered names of offenders who committed new sex crimes after release. Even after we provided those names to DOC, a prison official publicly claimed, “There’s not a list,” and the recidivism rate was zero. As a result of our investigation, DOC could no longer be in denial. The sex offender treatment program manager was replaced, and prison officials are changing the program rules and asking for more state funding.
  • Mission Investigate: The Swedish Nazis

    In December 2013 36-year-old Fidel Ugo from Nigeria got stabbed in a Stockholm suburb by a group of Nazis, and he almost blead to death. The police investigation into the knife attack was soon discontinued and no one was charged for this obvious hate crime. When the reporters of SVT's current affairs magazine Mission Investigate starts scrutinizing the case they soon identify the perpetrators as members of a nazi organisation called The Swedish Resistance Movement (SMR). The reportage has been called the most important in Mission Investigate's history and gained enormous attention when aired in Sweden in April 2014. The police was heavily criticized for its shoddy investigation, but after the reportage was broadcast the case was reopened again. Three members of SMR are now suspected of attempted murder and they face up to 8 years in prison.