School Cheating, Prison Overcrowding, and Abused Exchange Students

This week’s top MuckReads from ProPublica.

JPMorgan Chase is under investigation for its practices in going after delinquent debtors

Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Here are this week’s top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica’s ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to The best submissions are selected by ProPublica’s editors and reporters and then featured on Pro Publica and @ProPublica.

OCC Probing JPMorgan Chase Credit Card Collections, American Banker
Documents were trashed. Robo-signing was rampant. Computer systems showed different amounts of debt.  JPMorgan Chase is under federal investigation for its practices in collecting credit card debt, and millions of dollars in previous judgments on debt payments could be thrown into question. Chase declined to comment.
Contributed by @paulkiel


“Ashley Treatment” On Rise Amid Concerns From Disability Rights Groups, Guardian
A controversial procedure that limits the growth of severely disabled children “has begun to spread” among families. Though disability groups claim the treatment violates rights, parents who have opted in believe it ultimately leads to a higher quality of life for the child. The Guardian has more in an email exchange with the first patient’s father.
Contributed by @amichel


“Compelling Evidence of Cheating in Many Philadelphia Schools, Philadelphia Inquirer
Fifty-six Philadelphia public schools, including some of the city’s high-performing “vanguard” schools, are under investigation for systemic cheating on standardized tests.
Contributed by @dylancpurcell

Inmate’s Lament: Rather Be Dead Than Here, New York Times
El Salvador’s prisons were built with a capacity of 8,000 but three times that number of inmates are crowded into cell’s in the nation’s 19 prisons. Overcrowding like this is prevalent across Latin America and has led to disease, safety issues, and cries of crisis from human rights groups, prison administrators, and investigators.
Contributed by @srubenfeld


Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs, New York Times
The most-read resignation letter in years: A Goldman Sachs exec wrote that a culture shift, from what he says was one of integrity to one of greed, prompted him to leave the firm after nearly 12 years. The day of publication, Goldman lost $2.15 billion of its market value and  debate picked up on the “very nature of capitalism.”

Foreign Exchange Students Sexually Abused in Program Overseen by State Department, Rock Center With Brian Williams
An NBC investigation discovered that foreign exchange students participating in a program that is overseen by the State Dpeartment have been sexually abused and then sent back home “with little or no support.” According to the story, “In one of the most egregious cases, at least four exchange students were sexually abused over the course of two years by the same host father.”
Contributed by @DafnaLinzer


The Exoneration of Bennett Barbour, Slate
Virginia’s governor ordered DNA testing as part of an audit of criminal cases that cleared Bennett Barbour of a 1978 rape conviction, but the state didn’t inform him until nearly two years after the discovery. Barbour could be one of dozens of wrongfully convicted men cleared by the Virginia’s DNA review, but the state hasn’t moved quickly to notify them, nor has it released a complete list of names.
Contributed by @ProPubPR

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