The Year in Investigations

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As 2015 comes to a close, we compiled a list of our hardest-hitting investigations that have had impact across the state. Take a moment, take a look.

Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails – We revealed that a third of the state’s elected jailers had no jails to run, and exposed an inefficient system, rife with nepotism, that costs Kentucky taxpayers about $2 million annually. The series prompted lawmakers to file legislation to reform the system.

Kentucky Nepotism: In Hiring, County Officials Can — and Do — Turn to Relatives – We exposed a patchwork of county ethics policies, many legalizing nepotism, many with rules so infused with loopholes that public officials readily bring their relatives aboard. Think nepotism doesn’t thrive in Kentucky government? Think again.

Kentucky Justice? Kicked Out of the Commonwealth – Our investigation revealed that Carrollton police sprung a mentally ill man from jail against a judge’s orders, drove him to Louisville, gave him $20 and put him on a bus bound for Florida. Our continued reporting put a spotlight on the age-old, and illegal practice of banishment. The city’s police chief and a veteran officer were later indicted.

Democrat-Heavy College Boards Run Counter to State Law – We uncovered state university boards stacked with Democrats, a clear violation of the law. Many of Gov. Steve Beshear’s board appointees were also donors to his campaigns. Our reporting provoked an attorney general’s review.

Trouble Behind Bars – An investigation found preventable county jail deaths that provoked little to no follow-up, as well as failures at all levels of government. Not even the state Department of Corrections had a true, accurate accounting of who was dying in county jails, and why. We launched a database to keep track of in-custody deaths.

Public Accountability – In our fight for transparency, we sued the University of Louisville over its failure to release a high-profile, financial auditor’s review that the institution had kept secret. We eventually settled the suit, winning the release of this important public record.

Dying for Dollars – Our investigation exposed a jail health care system that runs counter to national and state standards, and falls far short of meeting medical needs. While counties look to cut costs, for-profit companies have stepped in. Meanwhile, inmates are suffering.

Kentucky Money the Fuel for Cross-Border Casinos, Other State Budgets – Our newsroom analyzed tax revenues and found that neighboring states have netted a total of $3.9 billion in taxes in the past decade from eight casinos on the north bank of the Ohio River. Months later, the House Speaker cited our work in pledging a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Kentucky.

With your support, our hardworking team has published more than 100 pieces this year, prompted reforms and shed light in dark, opaque corners of the commonwealth. Our audience has doubled and we’ll be aiming even higher in 2016.

Managing Editor Brendan McCarthy can be reached at bmccarthy@kycir.org or (502) 814.6541.