Monsters of 2021: Fancy government charts with no raw data

This monster always rears its ugly head just when I think I’m getting what I want: a public dataset that could shed light on some injustice or terror in the world. At first it looks alluring. It’s usually a government database presented in a veritable theme park of graphs and labeled numbers. But hiding just underneath the download button it lurks, silent. The option to download the raw data is not available.

Why is a mother serving more time than the man who abused her daughter?

When my colleague Ryan Little and I conducted a groundbreaking review of the state’s court records, we identified hundreds of people who were charged under the law since 2009, when a new version of the statute went into effect. While the language of these laws refers to parents, prosecutors overwhelmingly target mothers, not fathers. Since 2009, at least 90 percent of the people incarcerated for the offense in Oklahoma were women.

An obscure law is sending Oklahoma mothers to prison in droves. We reviewed 1.5 million cases to learn more.

In Oklahoma, failure to protect is the only child abuse charge levied predominantly against women, and it is disproportionately charged against women of color. People charged with the crime there are less likely to have a previous felony record than defendants in firsthand child abuse cases—a sign of just how much more dangerous abusers are than those accused of failing to stand in the way of their abuse. Since 2009, when the latest version of the state’s law went into effect, at least 139 women have been imprisoned solely for failure-to-protect charges. At least 55 are still incarcerated.

Proposed Baltimore police districts would lump more violent crime into the most violent districts, analysis shows

The Baltimore Police Department’s proposed new district boundaries, which officials say are necessary to modernize and streamline police operations, would shift areas of the city that have had more of the most violent crimes into larger, more violent Eastern and Western districts, a Baltimore Banner analysis has found. The Baltimore Banner’s analysis shows that the city’s attempt to equally distribute workload among its nine districts creates other inequities, disproportionately saddling larger versions of the Western, Eastern, Southwestern and Central districts with areas that have seen even more shootings, homicides and aggravated assaults. The trends were similar when The Banner analyzed pre-pandemic crime trends and those since the beginning of 2020.

City to conduct traffic calming study on Orleans Street

Liam Davis, the legislative affairs manager for the department, said the city is committed to implementing some traffic calming measures and conducting a six-month study of the corridor. The study, which will focus on traffic patterns from Washington Street to Ellwood Avenue, is set to start in either late October or early November, according to the department. Davis said there were a few factors that led to the study, such as the data — which was “highlighted” in a Baltimore Banner story — community interest, and political support from elected officials. “The data shows that traffic calming is really kind of needed, right?” Davis said.

For some Maryland landlords, filing for eviction is a monthly routine. Tenants pay the price.

In Anne Arundel County, a Baltimore Banner analysis of electronically available failure-to-pay-rent cases found that nearly a fifth of the more than 27,000 renters who had received an eviction filing since 2019 got five or more complaints during that time. Some residents had received as many as 30 eviction notices. The cases make up 57% of all civil cases since 2019. The analysis also found that fewer than 2,250 of those cases resulted in eviction, revealing Maryland landlords’ widespread use of the court system as a tool for collecting rent — often with extra fees tacked on — rather than for actually removing tenants.

Maryland kids in distress are being kept in emergency departments for weeks, months

A Baltimore Banner analysis of MDHS data found that hospital stays past the point of medical necessity increased as out-of-state placements, especially of psychiatric patients, dropped. They were far more likely to experience an overstay than medical patients, with stays for psychiatric patients lasting a week longer on average, according to the data compiled in state reports first mandated in 2019.

We uncovered the impact of GOP voting restrictions in one key state. It's staggering.

A new data analysis by Mother Jones shows that the number of voters disenfranchised by rejected mail ballot applications skyrocketed after the GOP-controlled legislature passed sweeping new restrictions on mail voting last year. The law enacted in March 2021 shortened the time people have to request and return mail ballots, prohibited election officials from sending such applications to all voters, added new ID requirements, and dramatically curtailed the use of ballot drop boxes, among other changes. During municipal elections in November, Georgia voters were 45 times more likely to have their mail ballot applications rejected—and ultimately not vote as a result—than in 2020. If that same rejection rate were extrapolated to the 2020 race, more than 38,000 votes would not have been cast in a presidential contest decided by just over 11,000 votes.

How Purdue Pharma paid out to politicians and pill-pushers

Before it was dissolved this fall, Purdue Pharma made billions selling the painkillers behind the overdose crisis while giving millions to patient advocacy groups, doctors’ organizations, and academia—spending that effectively served as an OxyContin marketing blitz. Yet the details of this largesse have long been murky. Congressional and media investigations have named only a handful of recipients, and a more comprehensive view of Purdue’s payouts didn’t exist—until now. Buried among thousands

NEW EVIDENCE: Trump extremists brought numerous guns to the Capitol on January 6

For more than eight months, Republican lawmakers have sought to rewrite the harrowing events of January 6. They have continually whitewashed the assault on the US Capitol despite copious footage showing mobs of Trump supporters ransacking Congress, threatening to kill Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and viciously attacking scores of police officers with chemical spray, fire extinguishers, hockey sticks, and flagpoles. The attack led to several deaths and was followed by

Forerunner of new federal plan to combat homelessness didn’t work as expected in Florida

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration’s push to combat homelessness calls for an expansion of jail-diversion programs meant to keep chronic offenders out of jail for low-level offenses. The jail-diversion program is in a federal plan released in October by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), which coordinates the federal government’s response to homelessness. But approaches such as this have failed in the past, an investigation by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland found.

Trump administration proposes reversal of homeless policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new federal plan to end homelessness released last week by the Trump administration calls for a reversal of Obama-era “housing first” policies. The plan, released Oct. 19, is the first from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness since President Donald Trump fired its executive director last year and replaced him with Robert G. Marbut Jr., a former government consultant who has recommended homeless support systems that rely on the threat of jail to push homeles

Trump administration proposes reversal of homeless policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new federal plan to end homelessness released last week by the Trump administration calls for a reversal of Obama-era “housing first” policies. The plan, released Oct. 19, is the first from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness since President Donald Trump fired its executive director last year and replaced him with Robert G. Marbut Jr., a former government consultant who has recommended homeless support systems that rely on the threat of jail to push homeles

Confusion over CARES Act eviction ban leaves some families on the brink of homelessness

A two-month investigation by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland found that cracks in the federal law appeared immediately. Confusion about the moratorium’s language, which played out in conflicting guidance from federal agencies and the courts, led to selective enforcement. Landlords were expected to determine for themselves whether their property was covered by the law. And renters had virtually no legal help to fight back if wrongfully evicted.

Cities try to arrest their way out of homeless problems

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) — In the nine years he has been homeless, Kenneth Shultz has spent one of every three nights in jail. The 71-year-old retiree has been charged with trespassing 96 times, including after he fell asleep behind gas stations, outside office buildings and in a city park. His 1,034 days in jail have come with a crushing debt of $41,311 in court costs, fines and fees and an estimated taxpayer tab of nearly $50,000.

CDC says 'no' to clearing encampments during coronavirus outbreak

People living in outdoor homeless encampments should not be evicted during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus unless they can be moved to individual housing units, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended late Sunday. Living outside for prolonged periods of time has long been associated with greater health risks. But the recommendations posted on the CDC’s website said the short-term impact of clearing the tents and temporary structures would likely increase the risk of spreading the virus because people would scatter to other parts of the community.

Larry Hogan's future now tied to Maryland's economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Grappling with the greatest test of his term, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been lauded for his leadership by experts who say his focus on facts and the future have saved lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Longtime Hogan watchers say he has managed a diplomatic minefield well while leading the National Governors Association, and walking a fine line when he criticizes the federal response by rarely saying anything negative about President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence by name.
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