Journalism in the Public Interest

Top MuckReads: Spooky Surveillance, Nonviolent Youths in Adult Jails

Our rundown of this week’s best investigative or accountability journalism.


A still from a marketing video obtained by the Wall Street Journal as part of its Surveillance Catalog project.

Here are this week's top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site and @ProPublica.

Drugs Used for Psychotics Go to Youths in Foster Care, The New York Times

To deal with behavioral problems, doctors are treating foster-care children with the same powerful drugs prescribed to people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. Two percent of foster children took one of the drugs, according to a survey, despite the disorders being “extremely rare in young children.”

Contributed by @bponsot

The Surveillance Catalog, The Wall Street Journal

A searchable trove of documents related to the “off-the-shelf surveillance technology that has arisen” since 9/11. They were obtained from attendees of a secretive conference, and include hacking tools that “can gather all Internet communications in a country.”

A Neighborhood in Peril: Dangerous chromium spreads through Garfield groundwater, The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

Chromium, a toxic chemical, has seeped into Garfield, N.J., homes for almost three decades, and The Record traces it to governmental mismanagement. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “showed poor judgment, lax enforcement and bureaucratic indifference to an emerging public health threat,” The Record reported. Officials agree that the case was not handled well decades ago, and it could costs tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to clean up.

Contributed by Michael Simonson via email

Volume of youth transfers to adult jail questioned, Scripps Howard News Service

Judges say the transfer of juvenile suspects to criminal court, which opens the possibility that they'll land in adult jail, are meant for youths accused of violent crimes. But in the 9,000 times per year it happens, just two out of five children are accused of violent crimes, with most facing charges involving drugs, weapons or property.

Contributed by @SDulai

These stories and many more can be found at ProPublica. You can also subscribe to a daily #MuckReads email or follow ProPublica on Twitter. Reader submissions are key to making #MuckReads a success — please contribute!

Robertr Cross PhD

Nov. 23, 2011, 4:31 p.m.

Havng worked in foster care for the past five years and having witnessed the terrible abuse of over medicating foster children it is refreshing to see this probem is finally being brought to the publics awareness. The heart of the problem is the medical profession unwillingness to provide coherent guidelines as to what medications are appropriate for specific behavioral problens that some foster children experince.

My wife and I were Therapeutic foster parents for teenage girls. We would normally get these children with a long list of medications that took months to bring them down from. The arguments were that children in group homes or facilities needed to be medicated in order to function inside these dumping grounds. It was heartbreaking to watch these developing adults try to cope with the side-effects of the medications. Their social skills were as affected as their physical development.

Michael Rogers

Nov. 29, 2011, 1:20 a.m.

I’m told by counselees that the county jail also freely dispenses seraquel a psycoactive drug to the inmates, it keeps them stoned and quiet

This is a pretty handy list, thanks!

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