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Topher Sanders

Reporter

Photo of Topher Sanders

Topher Sanders covers racial inequality for ProPublica. He has reported on education and city government for The Florida Times-Union since 2008. Named to the investigative team in 2013, he became the paper's investigative editor in 2014.

Topher's data-driven reporting on juvenile plea deals and the time Jacksonville juveniles spend in pre-trial detention facilities was a finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award in 2015. His reporting on public records concerns and questionable behavior by Jacksonville's elected public defender prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to order an investigation of the office in 2013. The investigation resulted in a scathing grand jury report asking Scott to remove the elected official. His education reporting was recognized in 2012 by the Education Writers Association. His work has also appeared in Essence, Black Enterprise and Newsweek magazines. He started his career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama.

Pedestrian Tickets Lead to Hundreds of Suspended Driver’s Licenses

In Jacksonville, not paying your jaywalking ticket can cost you the ability to get to school or work. Again, blacks bear a disproportionate impact.

Local Lawmakers and Civil Rights Groups Call for Suspending Pedestrian Tickets in Jacksonville

Concerns about targeted enforcement against African Americans come after a Florida Times-Union/ProPublica investigation.

One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

C.J. Brown wrote four times as many pedestrian tickets as any other officer in Jacksonville over the last five years. Most of them went to blacks. His boss says he’s just “good at his job.”

Walking While Black

Jacksonville’s enforcement of pedestrian violations raises concerns that it’s another example of racial profiling.

How (Not) to Cross the Street in Jacksonville

The city’s population is 29 percent black, but black pedestrians received 55 percent of the pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to July 2017. Looking at each type of ticket issued reveals even bigger disparities.

The Ticketed Feel Targeted

A truck driver, a mother, a lawyer and a number of young men offer their accounts of walking while black.

Misdemeanor Defendants Facing Jail Time Not Told They Have a Right to Counsel, Bar Association Finds

American Bar Association monitors report misdemeanor defendants in Nashville often aren’t told they are entitled to a lawyer even when their charges mean they could end up behind bars.

A Wisconsin Republican Looks Back With Regret at Voter ID and Redistricting Fights

Republican efforts to impose voter ID laws and redraw election districts both wound up in federal court. Dale Schultz ended 30 years in state politics lamenting the recent displays of partisanship.

Confusion Over Drug Tests Highlights Lack of Training for Florida Officers

A series of embarrassments suggests Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office could use some instruction on using and interpreting field tests that have resulted in thousands of drug arrests in recent years.

Failing the Smell Test

Records suggest Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office trained drug-sniffing dogs with material that wasn’t drugs.

‘Only White People,’ Said the Little Girl

On a playground, the messy birth of a 5-year-old's “otherness.”

Videos Surface of a Death in Custody the LAPD Didn’t Want Released

Vachel Howard was arrested for driving under the influence. Hours later, he was dead. Here‘s what happened inside an LAPD jail.

Busted

Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

System Failures

Houston cases shed light on a disturbing possibility: that wrongful convictions are most often not isolated acts of misconduct by the authorities but systemic breakdowns — among judges and prosecutors, defense lawyers and crime labs.

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