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Des Moines, Iowa
Investigative Reporter — Des Moines Register

Investigative reporter at The Des Moines Register

Lost Schools: A photo that launched a revolution

desmoinesregister.com — The iconic photo of Amish children fleeing into Iowa cornfields to escape school and law enforcement officers there to enforce compulsory public education laws turns 50 this fall. The image taken by Des Moines Register photographer Thomas DeFeo was picked up in Life magazine and other publications and historians credit it with rallying a national public outcry.

Could high-speed Internet save Iowa’s schools?

desmoinesregister.com — Administrators of a rural school in far northern Iowa believe technology can temper the pain rising from Iowa's lost schools crisis. And they took their message to the Capitol this month. "Everyone is mourning the loss of their schools when, instead, we should focus on the future of education and how to revolutionize education," said John Carver, superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek schools.

Forfeiture under fire: U.S., Iowa hearings Wednesday

desmoinesregister.com — Congressional and Iowa lawmakers will both launch hearings Wednesday into the use of forfeiture. The hearings follow the Des Moines Register's "Finders Keepers" series that found that Iowa law enforcement agencies have profited by at least $43 million in forfeitures since 2009, frequently in cases where public records show no indication of criminal charges or convictions.

Grassley: End ‘perverse’ forfeiture incentives

desmoinesregister.com — A congressional hearing next week will address "the perverse incentives" of forfeiture, Sen. Chuck Grassley announced late Wednesday. "When used appropriately, asset forfeiture can be an important tool for law enforcement, but too many reports have outlined abuses of the current law," Grassley said regarding the April 15 hearing.

Solutions to Iowa's broken forfeiture system

desmoinesregister.com — State and federal forfeiture reforms are necessary to correct abuses documented last week by a Des Moines Register investigation, civil and property rights advocates say. And unlike with other hot-button topics, the push for change is coming from people or groups frequently on opposite sides of social and political issues.

Finders, Keepers: Stories from the Register's investigation

desmoinesregister.com — The Des Moines Register launched a statewide investigation into forfeitures late last year following two prominent Iowa cases that made national headlines: one involving out-of-state gamblers who claim Iowa State Patrol troopers unlawfully seized their $100,020 bankroll following a traffic stop; the other involving a nearly $33,000 seizure from the business bank account of a Spirit Lake restaurant owner accused of intentionally structuring bank deposits under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

Iowa forfeiture: Forfeiture spending questioned in Iowa, elsewhere

desmoinesregister.com — Scented candles, mulch and tropical fish are among the purchases Iowa law enforcement agencies have made with some of the nearly $43 million they have seized in the past six years using state and federal civil forfeiture laws.

Iowa forfeiture: Anatomy of forfeiture case outside Council Bluffs

desmoinesregister.com — In March 2014, a sheriff's deputy stops a driver just outside Council Bluffs for traveling 5 miles and hour over the speed limit. What begins as a friendly exchange among the deputy, driver and passenger Michael Sanchez-Ratliff ends with seizure of his life savings, totaling nearly $19,000, under Iowa's civil forfeiture law.

Iowa forfeiture: A 'system of legal thievery'?

desmoinesregister.com — The plan: Hitch a ride with a family friend to California, visit relatives and check out community colleges there. Sanchez-Ratliff, then 20, did something that in hindsight wasn't the best idea, but isn't illegal. He took with him his entire life savings, including about $14,000 provided by his grandmother and an additional $5,000 he had saved from working.

Make or break: Vacant schools test Iowa

desmoinesregister.com — The prevalence of vacant school buildings across Iowa's landscapes has placed dozens of communities at a crossroads. Do residents give up, allowing structures that were once central to a community's livelihood to be demolished or fall into disrepair? Or is an effort made to reinvent the so-called "prairie castles"?
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May 11, 2015

RT @tonyleys: Penalty for ex-Iowa Juvenile Home worker who slammed girl's head into concrete wall: A $315 fine. dmreg.co/1bKrK5j via @jasonclayworth

May 10, 2015

"It cast the state of Iowa in a very, very bad light. It was a black mark from coast to coast . . ." #LostSchools dmreg.co/1HaM51O

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