In 2012, the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity project graded the openess and accountability of all 50 state governments, leading many to take up reform measures. The investigation found that state officials often make lofty promises when it comes to ethics and accountability, but these efforts frequently fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption. The reporting made a difference. To date there has been movement for reform in 15 states, with certainly more to come once state legislatures convene in 2013. Three states have passed new laws; new laws have been proposed in an additional five states, and organized campaigns for reform have been launched in seven others.
The Center’s report on harsh disciplinary practices in Los Angeles schools showed that thousands of police citations were being issued to children as young as 11 or 12-years-old for seemingly minor infractions. The reporting has helped spur a broad rethinking of punishment policies in the city’s largest school district. Our “Separated by Law” investigation revealed how a little understood 1996 immigration law was forcing immigrants pursuing an American dream to instead suffer an American nightmare —separating parents from their children for up to a decade at a time.
The Center’s yearlong look at worker health and safety, “Hard Labor,” exposed regulatory lapses by the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard. The series was launched with a story about a fatality investigation that was mishandled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Other stories examined the death of a UCLA lab worker, dangerous working conditions for U.S. fishermen, and Walmart’s alleged involvement in wage theft at a warehouse in California.