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Topher Sanders

Reporter

Photo of Topher Sanders

Topher Sanders covers race, inequality and the justice system for ProPublica. His data-driven reporting on juvenile plea deals and the time Jacksonville juveniles spend in pre-trial detention facilities was a 2015 finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. 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.

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. In 2017, he and colleague Ryan Gabrielson recieved the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim award for excellence in criminal justice reporting and an Aronson Award for social justice journalism for their multi-part series “Busted,” an investigation of the systematic misuse of roadside chemical field tests by police. In 2018, he and reporter Ben Conarck recieved 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 work has appeared in the New York Times, Essence, Black Enterprise and Newsweek. He is a graduate of Tuskegee University and started his journalism career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama.

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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