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.
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.
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?
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.