Latest Stories

Undercover students used in drug busts at some University of Wisconsin campuses

A former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater student poses with a playing card distributed by the campus warning of the penalties of a drug conviction. The student, who requested anonymity because he is looking for a job, sold drugs to another student on campus who was a confidential informant. UW-Whitewater is one of three four-year University of Wisconsin campuses to acknowledge using students to make controlled buys from suspected drug dealers. Photo shot Sept. 4, 2014, Madison.

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism checks at the UW System’s 13 four-year campuses turned up three sites at which officials acknowledge using students arrested for drug activities to make controlled buys. Opponents say this practice could place students in dangerous situations and exploits their vulnerability to losing thousands of dollars of federal financial aid and tuition by being suspended from school. But supporters say it provides an opportunity for students to avoid felonies.
Continue Reading

Lauren Fuhrmann promoted to WCIJ associate director

Lauren Fuhrmann has been promoted to associate director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Fuhrmann, who joined the Center in 2011, was promoted from public engagement director to associate director in recognition of her growing responsibilities and outstanding performance, Executive Director Andy Hall said. “Lauren’s willingness to tackle new challenges, and to stretch her skills, have helped the Center, and its counterparts across the nation, to produce better journalism and improve the measurement of its impact,” Hall said. Fuhrmann leads WCIJ’s public engagement efforts, including events, social media, newsletter and promotional materials; is co-director of the website; tracks the distribution and assesses the impact of WCIJ’s news stories; assists with development of donors and writing of grant reports; handles bookkeeping duties; and produces photos, audio and video content. In 2013, she was among five young leaders in the inaugural group of “Future Headliners” honored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Continue Reading

Experts: Drug choice, not race, fuels disparities in Wisconsin drug courts

Racine County Judge Gerald Ptacek applauds after a defendant relates a story of success or progress in Racine County's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court during this April 2012 session. Drug courts such as this one in Racine are seen as an effective way to cut incarceration costs and recidivism. But minority defendants in Wisconsin tend to be underrepresented in these diversion programs.

According to a recent study by Washington University in St. Louis, 90 percent of heroin users are white, and most are young and live in the suburbs. By contrast, hospital studies show that African-Americans are much more likely than whites to abuse cocaine. And one University of Wisconsin-Madison expert said heroin addicts tend to commit less violent crimes than those on cocaine; many drug courts exclude violent offenders from participating. The result: Some drug courts, such as the one in Dane County, are now full of white heroin users. Continue Reading