TAKEN | South Carolina police seize millions through civil forfeiture

These fruits of civil asset forfeiture add up, across the state, week to week. Both financially — for law enforcement — and in terms of the toll on citizens’ lives in South Carolina. A team of journalists from the USA TODAY NETWORK, most based in Greenville, spent two years examining this, with a major investigation of civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina. Their work is driven by an exclusive database, built from details of every forfeiture case in the state from 2014-2016.

The state of South Carolina's school bus fleet

South Carolina runs the only state-run school bus fleet in the country but it has a history of neglecting bus replacement. In 2007, the state passed a law requiring school buses to be replaced after 15 years of use. Despite this, nearly 35 percent of the nearly 6,000 school buses on the road are older than 15 years old, including models as old as 1988. This video examines the state of the school bus fleet in the South Carolina.

Shot and produced for the Greenville News. Additional footage shot by Lauren Petracca.

How BMW impacted the Upstate

A look at how BMW’s manufacturing facility impacted the Greenville-Spartanburg region in South Carolina after the decline of the textile industry.

Video shot and produced for the Greenville News

Thousands join fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, N.D. is the largest of four set up in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would ship Bakken Oil Patch crude oil to a Patkoa, Ill. The gathering is the first time the seven nations of the Sioux have gathered since the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 and is the single largest gathering of Native American tribes in more than a century. The Standing Rock Sioux and the thousands that have traveled to the encampment are concerned about the pipeline and the harm a spill could bring to those who rely on the Missouri River as their main source of water. But for tribes who have endured a long history of land losses and broken treaties, the fight also means much more.

Video produced by Josh Morgan for the Argus Leader

Illustrating Operation Streamline

Seventy migrants captured by Customs and Border Patrol, or apprehended without papers inside the United States, are sentenced every day for jail and deportation in Tucson, Ariz through Operation Streamline. Within 48 hours, they are rushed past a judge and deported. Some defense lawyers and advocates say Streamline is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Operation Streamline is a specialized court hearing of mass sentencings that began in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration. In 2011, it cost Tucson an estimated $56 million for legal and security staff alone. ST McNeil and Josh Morgan enlisted the help of graphic artist and University of Arizona assistant professor Lawrence Gipe to illustrate the story of Tucson’s jury-less court. Sketched in charcoal, they are the first ever public images of Operation Streamline.

Independent Despite Disability

Ray Strickland has an IQ of 69, putting him just below the threshold of average cognitive ability and mental disability. With the help of Gulf Bend Medical Center, Strickland is able to live normal life with minimal assistance, despite having Intellectual and Developmental Disability, or IDD. Strickland works at Speedy Stop, frequents the public transit services and goes home every day to his girlfriend, Teresa Bates. This video is a look into the nearly average life of Ray Strickland.

Finding a light at the end of the tunnel

Jody Agner, 50, visits the underground tunnel she lived in for nearly eight years. Agner was thrown out of her home after multiple disputes with her abusive, alcoholic husband. She and her current boyfriend, Edward Monin, found the tunnel after sleeping in a makeshift camp in a nearby warehouse. Agner now lives in a hotel room within walking distance of her former home. Agner misses the tunnel at times, which she now rents out for $10 a month.

Sand, Surf, Repeat

Whether he is meticulously crafting a board in his workshop or tracking tropical storm patterns, Tom Sterne lives to surf. His insatiable appetite has led him across the globe in search of the perfect swell.

Fifteen years ago, Sterne decided to materialize his obsession and started crafting his own boards. He operates from a workshop on the Victoria County property where he grew up. Even though Sterne only builds as a hobby, his boards have become increasingly popular for the small surfing community in South Texas.

A Conductor's Passion

Since he was 12 years old, Jerry Junkin knew that he wanted to stand in front of a band and conduct. Junkin is now the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Dallas Wind Symphony and the Director of Bands at The University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor. Junkin talks about what it’s like to be a conductor and organizing a group of musicians as he prepares for the last performance of the Bach Festival in Victoria, TX at the Victoria Fine Arts Center.