Holly J. McDede | KALW

Holly J. McDede

Justice Reporter
Holly J. McDede

Since 1989, Native American tribes have hosted annual canoe journeys to celebrate ancestral maritime culture and connect with the water. That tradition came to the San Francisco Bay this week. Indigenous tribes paddled on canoes to remember both the history of the earth, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz Island.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Nancy Tung is a longtime prosecutor running to be San Francisco’s next district attorney. She says San Francisco prosecutors need a leader who can make hard choices that aren’t necessarily politically popular. 

Courtesy of Suzy Loftus

The race for San Francisco’s District Attorney is proving to be one of the city’s most surprising races in recent memory. A few days before early voting opened this week, Mayor Breed appointed Suzy Loftus as interim DA.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Chesa Boudin is running to be San Francisco’s next District Attorney. Both of his parents were arrested when he was just fourteen months old. That began a lifetime of involvement in the justice system — first as a young person visiting his parents in prison, then as a public defender and advocate for reform. 

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Early voters in the San Francisco headed to the polls today. They’ll have the chance to choose the city’s next district attorney. 

Holly J. McDede / KALW

The battle over the right to access People’s Park in Berkeley began 50 years ago, but it never really ended. Now, UC Berkeley plans to develop the space into housing for students as well as homeless people.

Josh Edelson / AP Photos

African Americans are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted in San Francisco. District Attorney George Gascón is turning to artificial intelligence to keep bias from influencing prosecutors. But how much of a difference can this new tool actually make? 

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Contra Costa County jail officials are investigating a recent in custody death at the Martinez Detention Facility earlier this month. That inmate is the third person to die inside the jail so far this year.

Courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug

A San Jose based group called Silicon Valley Debug is on a mission to get family members into the courtroom as advocates. That organizing strategy is now spreading to “participatory defense” hubs around the country.

Eric Risberg / AP Images

The Oakland City Council voted to ban the use of facial recognition technology last week. The software is used by police around the country to find wanted suspects and find missing children. But civil liberties advocates say the technology can lead to wrongful arrests and convictions.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

After Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police last year, state lawmakers proposed a bill to change the law around when officers can open fire. Activists rallied behind the bill. But when strictest stipulations of the bill were removed to win over law enforcement groups, some withdrew their support. Assembly Bill 392 has now passed the Senate Floor, and California's Governor is expected to sign it. 

Holly J. Mcdede

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would give inmates the option to be released during the day. The measure was introduced after Jessica St. Louis was found dead outside a BART station hours after being released from an Alameda County jail late at night last July. 

George Nikitin / AP Images

The First Offender Prostitution Program is like traffic school, except the goal is to educate people who have been arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Three years ago, Oakland adopted a policy to help people busted for marijuana crimes get into the legal market. Alphonso T. Blunt is the first equity applicant benefiting from this program with a dispensary open for business.

Holly J. McDede / KALW News

California has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country — and a booming gun industry. More than 1 million firearms were purchased in the state in in 2016, or roughly one gun for every 30 residents.

HOLLY J. MCDEDE


When you think of school, you might not think of prison. But in 2014, approximately 47,600 young people in California actually attended school inside juvenile hall. Those schools are called “court schools.”

It's been a year since President Donald Trump signed a package of bills called SESTA-FOSTA to crack down on sex ads online. Supporters said this package would combat sex trafficking. Critics said it would only make the sex trade more dangerous. 

Marc Klaas

Before Governor Gavin Newsom halted the death penalty in California, he met with parents, like Amanda Wilcox and Marc Klaas. Both of their daughters had been murdered, and they both had two very different reactions to the temporary moratorium on capital punishment. 

San Francisco Sherriff's Department / cropped and resized

From our Audiograph series:

San Francisco’s oldest working jail is located on the top floor of the city’s Hall of Justice. That jail is seismically unsafe, and it’s got a bad reputation — rats wandering behind the walls, peeling old paint, and even frequent raw sewage floods

JoAnn DeLuna / KALW

Longtime San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi was memorialized at City Hall and during a vigil last week. He died on February 22 of what appears to be a heart attack. He fought to bring accountability to law enforcement and representation to the accused. 

Steve Baker / Used under CC BY-ND 2.0 / cropped

A new law went into effect this year, requiring police to release certain disciplinary records. But some police unions are fighting to keep records hidden.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

When the Camp Fire ravaged Paradise in November, the whole town was incinerated. Many who escaped the flames had to abandon precious valuables, and in some cases, also the cremated remains of people they love. Months after the fire, survivors are still hoping to find those cremains.

Cary Bass-Deschenes / Flikr Creative Commons, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

So many people are dying from opioid overdoses in the United States that these deaths have fueled an overall decline in life expectancy in 2017. Doctors in the Bay Area are responding by bringing medication for opioid addiction to people in unconventional places, like homeless encampments, emergency rooms, hospitals, and jails.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

In California, deaths related to Fentanyl overdoses have spiked, and it’s still hard to find treatment for opioid addiction. A medication called buprenorphine, more commonly known by the brand name Suboxone, can help.

Ninna Gaensler-Debs / KALW

The San Francisco Immigration Defense Unit is a team of eight lawyers with the public defender’s office who represent people threatened with deportation. 

Holly J. McDede / KALW News

Ever since recreational cannabis went legal in California, cannabis tourism companies started popping up around the state. They offer travelers a chance to smoke and sip wine, paint and puff, and learn cannabis factoids while lighting it up.

Flickr user Sharon Hahn Darlin (Used under CC:BY)

Derick Almena and Max Harris, former managers of the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, are going to court on Friday. Prosecutors accuse the men of manslaughter in the blaze which killed 36 people two years ago.

JoAnn DeLuna / KALW News

Hotel workers face high rates of sexual assault and harassment on the job, with over half of hotel staff in Oakland saying a guest has flashed them or opened the door naked.

Public Domain. Cropped and resized

Voters around California are weighing dozens of ballot measures that would impose taxes on marijuana businesses in different cities and counties. Oakland’s Measure V is unique, however, because it could lead to lower tax rates for marijuana businesses.

Emma McAvoy and Holly J. McDede / KALW News

Shortly after Alcatraz prison shut down in 1963, the people who lived and worked on the island began hosting annual get-togethers. When the National Park Service invited the “alumni” to host the reunions on the island, convicts were invited, too. This year, as surviving alumni dwindle, the tradition is coming to an end.

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