Stories

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

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Search results for "traffic fines" ...

  • Municipal Court Abuses

    Many municipal courts in St. Louis County, particularly in struggling areas, have become major sources of revenue for their cities. As these towns came to rely more on traffic fines and court fees to fund their operations, people on the bottom income rungs found themselves buried in debt to the courts and facing arrest when they didn't show up for hearings because they couldn't pay. At the same time, the courts corrupted the points system designed to keep bad drivers off the road by turning moving violations into "illegal parking in a park" -- for a fee.
  • Millions Owed in Unpaid Traffic Tickets

    The City of Lubbock is owed more than $1.4 million in unpaid traffic fines that have been issued over the past five years. Our investigation discovered that many offenders have multiple unpaid tickets and have warrants out for their arrest. We caught up with one of the top five offenders, who told us he is repeatedly pulled over by police but never taken to jail, despite his outstanding warrants.
  • I-Team: Highway Robbery

    WCPO's investigative unit exposed widespread theft of traffic fines by court clerks in a local community notorious as a speed trap -- Arlington Heights, Ohio. Bigger than the thefts by a pair of court clerks was the government cover up that persisted for at least a decade. We obtained documents showing two successive police chiefs had warned the mayor and fiscal officer of Arlington Heights that a substantial amount of cash was missing as far back as 2002. Rather than heeding those warnings, the elected leaders of Arlington Heights marginalized both police chiefs, who eventually resigned. Our ongoing investigation has directly resulted in: · Multiple felony indictments against two government employees for theft in office. · Passage and subsequent repeal of an illegal ban on television cameras in public council meetings. · The complete and permanent shut-down of the speed trap on I-75 through Arlington Heights, Ohio. · A call from the county prosecutor for the village to be dissolved and annexed into a neighboring city. · Committee passage of Ohio House Bill 523, eliminating mayors' courts in communities with fewer than 1,000 residents. · The adoption of a new public records policy for the Village of Arlington Heights, conforming with Ohio public records and open meetings laws. Chief Investigative Reporter Brendan Keefe successfully fought against a wall of resistance to obtain public documents and gain access to illegally-closed council meetings.
  • Policing for Profit: Fines are City's Lifeblood

    The spoils of traffic enforcement in Pine Lake are significant. During the years 1989 to 1998, Pine Lakes collected an average of 57 percent of its revenue from traffic fines. The city tripled the size of its police force from three officers to 10 and more than quadrupled its revenue from fines. Three-quarters of its $1.13 million budget came from traffic tickets.
  • Wheels of Justice

    Ohio financially depends on the misfortunes of traffic violators. In the name of safety, traffic tickets have become a billion-dollar business resulting in selective enforcement, punitive fines and jailing of the poor. Some cities annually collect more traffic fines than taxes. Some laws have little to do with highway safety. More than 14,000 teen-agers have lost their licenses for not finishing school since 1990; more than 100,000 motorists - often accident victims - lost their licenses for failure to fill out an obscure state report. In Columbus, more people are jailed for driving without a license than for any other crime. Never before have so many licenses been suspended by the state - nor so costly to buy them back. Federal funds earmarked for community-oriented police by the U.S. Department of Justice have been used to increase traffic ticket revenue by some municipalities. (November 17 - 19, 1996)