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

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Search results for "debt" ...

  • 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.
  • Pyramid Schemes in the United States

    This Al Jazeera series shows that although pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States, multilevel marketing companies are not. We investigate some of the biggest MLM companies that specifically target and exploit vulnerable populations, such as youth. In the first part of the series, we demonstrate how one company profits by promising desperate & indebted teenagers an economic revolution when in reality the company’s CEO made $12 million in 2013, 7,500 times more than a majority of its young distributors who made under $2 thousand that year on average.
  • The Rise and Fall of a Patrón

    Our investigation showed how powerful political alliances helped United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) grow from a community group into a multimillion-dollar enterprise operating 16 taxpayer-funded charter schools, a janitorial firm and other businesses. We found a lack of oversight of charter school finances and operations cleared the way for alleged abuse. Specifically: UNO received more than $280 million in public money over the past five years but neither Chicago Public Schools nor the Illinois State Board of Education closely monitored how funds were spent. A large portion of the public money UNO collects goes to management fees, debt service and consultants rather than classrooms.
  • Norwegian Government investing in Betting Companies

    A stabbing, based upon betting debt, gave VG the idea to investigate the betting companies and the people in the "industry". In Norway they have a betting monopoly, organized at "Norsk Tipping" ("Norwegian Betting"), but the monopoly has faced competition from foreign companies regarding online betting. Even if the government has have forbidden the banks to make transmission to these companies, the players are finding the way around.
  • Building debt: $2 billion in bonds approved in districts formed by developers

    The story is about a series of obscure government agencies that are quietly building up more than $2 billion in debt in Denton County, Texas. The county ranks fifth among Texas counties with 62 and first in North Texas of the little-known special water districts, a type of government entity used by developers to finance infrastructure for residential and commercial developments. The story reveals how the districts debt and numbers proliferated after the state decided to halt related investigation and they deemed the investigations a waste of government resources.
  • Superintendent's contract

    The Gazette’s investigation into contacts awarded the superintendent of Medina City Schools revealed unprecedented benefits, including the payment of more than a quarter million dollars in educational expenses that included college debts more than a decade old. The lucrative contract provisions remained hidden from the public because of the failure of the school board to properly publicize the contracts, in violation of Ohio’s Sunshine Law. They educational payment also escaped public notice because they were made from a county fund that was not included in the school district’s financial reports or annual audits.
  • Broken Bonds

    A Tribune investigation revealed how Chicago’s leaders blew through nearly $20 billion in bond money – a reckless pattern of borrowing that undermined the city’s future by spending on worthless projects, structuring financial deals in ways that could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service rules and piling an unsustainable level of debt onto the shoulders of future generations.
  • Unaccountable

    Reuters’ “Unaccountable” series discloses that the Defense Department, which receives by far the largest share of the annually appropriated federal budget, has no functioning accounting system.
  • Debt Inc., Lending and Collecting in America

    Payday loans represent only one part of a high-cost lending industry that targets lower income consumers, trapping many in deep debt. When regulators and lawmakers try to crack down, lenders tweak their products to get around the law.
  • Homes for the Taking: Liens, Loss and Profiteers.

    In the nation’s capital, predatory investors took hundreds of homes from the elderly and poor over tax debts as small as $44 in a devastating series of foreclosures unchecked by city leaders. In 2013, The Washington Post launched an unprecedented investigation of the District of Columbia’s century-old tax-lien program, finding investors who routinely tacked on thousands in fees to tax bills, turning $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts and making it impossible for families to save their homes. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her house while she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. So did a flower shop owner in a coma. “Homes for the Taking” outraged the District like few other scandals in years, with city leaders immediately approving reforms to protect the city’s most vulnerable homeowners.