The impact of our investigations, from changes in legislation to overturned convictions to increased awareness, is the metric by which NECIR measures our success.
Murder conviction of Darrell Jones vacated – An investigation into the 1986 murder conviction of Boston native Darrell Jones led to his release in 2017 after NECIR reported a juror’s claims that two men said Jones was guilty because he was black. It was one of the findings of a five-part radio series on WBUR public radio and online report into the conviction of Jones by an all-white jury.
Increased compensation and quicker process for the wrongfully convicted – The state legislature in 2017 passed a law to double the compensation and pay legal fees for those who served prison time for crimes they did not commit. The changes came after a NECIR story published in the Boston Globe and aired on WGBH public radio revealed flaws in a 2004 law meant to pay a “moral debt” to those who had been wrongfully convicted.
Increased scrutiny into county jails after focus on jail suicides – An NECIR investigation into the mounting number of jail suicides in Massachusetts led to internal investigations, lawsuits, and calls for change related to the treatment of mentally ill and suicidal inmates. The stories ran in the Boston Globe and WGBH public radio and were picked up by local and regional news organizations.
State legislature acts following story on troubled special education school — State lawmakers held hearings and filed legislation following a 2016 NECIR investigation co-produced with WBUR public radio into private, taxpayer funded schools that teach and house special education students. The legislation would allow parents better access to abuse and neglect reports at schools that treat vulnerable students.
Overturned conviction of Victor Rosario – A 2010 investigation by NECIR shed light on the dubious claims that put then 24-year-old Victor Rosario behind bars with a life sentence in 1983 for arson and eight counts of murder. Rosario’s conviction was overturned 30 years later as a direct result of our investigation, which was published in the Boston Globe.
Improvements to state child welfare syatem – Our “Out of the Shadows” investigation into child abuse and neglect fatalities in Massachusetts had an immediate impact on statewide policy, think tank reports, and public awareness — in the form of more than twenty editorials, interviews, and related reports across the state. Reporter Jenifer McKim continues to investigate and the Department of Children and Families continues to announce reforms related to our findings, which include the elimination of a controversial 2-tier system used to evaluate risk and allocate resources. Governor Baker announced the elimination of the system after our report revealed that 10 children had died after having been placed on the lower-risk track.
Increased FDA scrutiny and senate campaign – Four months after an NECIR investigation into Lyme disease testing centers, which exposed thousands of unregulated and unvalidated Lyme disease tests, the FDA announced its intention to scrutinize those and other diagnostic lab tests more closely. The announcement came at the urging of five senators who co-authored a letter to the Office of Management and Budget. Most recently, the FDA cited our work in a report on problematic laboratory developed tests that pledged increased regulation.
National conversation on administrative boom in higher education – Our investigation into the staggering rise in non-faculty administrative positions at U.S. colleges and universities sparked a nationwide examination of the trend, and has been cited by policy experts, higher education authorities, national journalists, and even presidential candidates. It also sparked localized reporting on the Administrative Boom by more than 25 university newspapers.
Proposed legislation to protect vulnerable homeowners – NECIR’s investigation into the way municipalities sell tax liens to for-profit debt collectors at the expense of vulnerable homeowners led to proposed legislation. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey backed the bill, which called for restrictions on gains made by third-party investment firms and a redirection of proceeds to the property owner or municipality.
Attorney General review of two earmarks in state budget – Our investigation into earmarks in the Massachusetts State Budget found $75k for an elusive East Boston jobs program and $30k for a church-affiliated Springfield health organization whose status as a public charity was unclear. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office launched reviews of both organizations in immediate response to our report.
Reform to Boston’s Department of Public Works – “Holes in the System,” our investigation into the way Boston’s Department of Public Works has been falsely reporting its pothole repairs, sparked citywide coverage and a lively conversation that led to government reform. Months after publishing our findings, Mayor Walsh announced changes to the way pothole repairs would be reporded