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.
What did cops find after raiding a home and injuring a pregnant woman with a flashbang grenade? A tenth of an ounce of marijuana. Flashbangs were originally designed for military-style hostage rescues. But these days, local police use them regularly to serve "no-knock" warrants. These modified hand grenades burn hotter than lava, and are used by law enforcement without national training requirements and little oversight. A ProPublica review found 50 people who were maimed, burned or killed from police use of the devices.—ProPublica via @JuliaAngwin
They call this VA center "Candy Land" and the guy who runs it "The Candy Man." The Center for Investigative Reporting examines painkiller prescription rates at a rural Wisconsin VA center under the direction of Dr. David Houlihan. During his tenure, opiate prescriptions quintupled despite a decline in patients seeking care, CIR reports. Staff and pharmacists who have complained about the center's practices have either been fired or resigned in protest. "It's a system that's gone completely haywire," said a whistleb-lower who quit his position after two months on the job.—The Center of Investigative Reporting via @willcir
When Child Protective Services fails to protect the child. Texas CPS investigates tens of thousands of child abuse and neglect cases every year. In 2009, the Texas Legislature ordered CPS to create public reports of the cases, including details of the abuse, cause of death, and CPS' involvement. Of the reports analyzed in an American-Statesman investigation, more than one-fourth of the children who died had been involved in multiple CPS investigations. The lack of analysis, the Statesman writes, means that "Texas' child protection workers effectively have been operating with blinders, missing deadly patterns and key pieces of information that could help protect kids."—The Austin American-Statesman via @justiceron and @jinatx