Topher Sanders

Reporter

Photo of Topher Sanders

Topher Sanders covers race, inequality and the justice system for ProPublica. In 2019, he was part of a team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Public Service and won the Peabody and George Polk awards for their coverage of President Trump’s family separation policy. In 2018, he and reporter Ben Conarck received the Paul Tobenkin award for race coverage and the Al Nakkula award for police reporting for their multi-part investigation “Walking While Black,” which explored how jaywalking citations are disproportionately given to black pedestrians. His reporting has won a number of other national awards including a NABJ Award, an Online Journalism Award, the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim award for excellence in criminal justice reporting and he is a two-time winner of the Paul Tobenkin award for coverage of racial intolerance and discrimination.

In 2016 Sanders co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit working to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color. He is a graduate of Tuskegee University and started his journalism career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama.

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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