Joel Jacobs

Data Reporter

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Joel Jacobs is a data reporter at ProPublica. Previously, he was a data reporter on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s investigations team, where he worked on a variety of accountability projects including examining hospital price transparency and public housing conditions. He also covered the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes for The Washington Post. He completed his master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University and previously worked as a software engineer.

The Louisiana Town Where a Traffic Stop Can Lead to One Charge After Another

Gretna, Louisiana, brings in more money through fines and fees than some larger cities in the state. Much of that revenue comes from motorists who rack up multiple traffic violations, according to a WVUE-TV and ProPublica investigation.

Mayors Are Presiding Over Their Town Courts Despite Guidance Saying They Shouldn’t. A Lawmaker Calls for Reform.

We found more than a dozen places in Louisiana where the mayor sat on the bench of a court that pulled in a sizable share of the town’s revenue. The state says this arrangement could be unfair to defendants.

TitleMax Demands High-Interest Payments From Borrowers in Bankruptcy

In Georgia, borrowers looking to alleviate debt through Chapter 13 bankruptcy can’t escape their high-interest title pawns thanks to a legal loophole that TitleMax helped secure.

How We Measured the Title Lending Industry in Georgia

No statewide agency monitors Georgia’s high-interest title lenders, so we used a variety of data sources to reveal the scope of the industry and its impact on customers who file for bankruptcy.

How We Measured the Environmental Cost of Bankrupt Mines

Using data from Kentucky and West Virginia environmental regulators, ProPublica and Mountain State Spotlight found that mines that have gone through multiple bankruptcies in the past decade had a higher median number of environmental violations than nonbankrupt mines.

Homeless Shelters Aren’t Equipped to Deal With New Mexico’s Most Troubled Foster Kids. Police See It for Themselves.

New Mexico places foster teens with serious mental health conditions in shelters that don’t offer psychiatric services. When a crisis erupts, they call 911. “This happens all the time,” said one officer.

This School District Is Ground Zero for Harsh Discipline of Native Students in New Mexico

In Gallup-McKinley County Schools, wearing the wrong color shirt can get you written up for “gang-related activity.” Banging on a window is bullying. The district is responsible for most of New Mexico’s disproportionate expulsions of Native students.

How We Found the School District Responsible for Much of New Mexico’s Outsized Discipline of Native Students

New Mexico does not publish public school discipline data. When we looked at it, we found that Native American students in the state were disciplined more than their white peers.

How Title Lending Works

Title lenders in the U.S. often use predatory practices to trap customers in high-interest loans, ProPublica recently reported. This guide will help you understand how title lending works and what your options are if you’re stuck in a contract.

How Title Lenders Trap Poor Americans in Debt With Triple-Digit Interest Rates

For some Georgia residents, title pawn contracts offer a quick way to obtain desperately needed cash. But poor regulation of a confusing system traps many borrowers in high-interest debt they can’t pay off.

These Foster Kids Need Mental Health Care. New Mexico Is Putting Them in Homeless Shelters.

Youth crisis shelters aren’t set up to deal with foster youth who need intensive mental health treatment. When teens try to harm themselves or others, staff resort to calling 911.

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