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 with the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to MuckReads@ProPublica.org. Sign up here to get this digest delivered to your inbox weekly.
“If everybody’s getting hooked up, nobody’s going to say anything.” Federal officials are investigating whether air marshals may have skipped some “high risk” flights or rearranged their schedules to engage in affairs or get better routes. The alleged transgressions aren’t the first for this service that expanded from a few dozen before 9/11 to a few thousand. “The male-dominated agency long has suffered from allegations of sexism, cronyism and other misconduct,” writes Reveal. — Reveal via @mtfarnsworth
Data-driven sentencing may punish the poor. In an effort to cut prison populations and save billions of dollars, prisons across the U.S. are using lengthy questionnaires to determine inmates’ sentencing and the risk of releasing. But while a questionnaire might explore a criminal’s history, it also delves into issues beyond it. Questions like: Do you have a phone? How many times have you moved? Was one of your parents in jail? Some experts feel that the questions put the poor in an outsized risk of longer sentences. “It’s basically an explicit embrace of the state saying we should sentence people differently based on poverty,” one law professor says.—Associated Press via @mattapuzzo
“These kids are virtually hog-tied.” At least 100,000 children are handcuffed, belly chained and put in leg irons for their day in court each year in the U.S., Mother Jones reports. Prosecutors and law enforcement say shackling can help maintains courtroom order. The American Bar Association disagrees and is pushing to end the practice.—Mother Jones via @mintymin