criminal justice | KALW

criminal justice

Andrew Stelzer

The three largest mental health treatment facilities in the U.S. are jails. The criminal justice system has become the primary way the United States deals with mental illness. In the second of a two-part documentary, we see how some communities are working to find solutions to this misalignment of care.

Andrew Stelzer / KALW

In part one of a two-part investigation into how the country’s jails have become our default mental health treatment centers, we go to Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, one of the largest — and deadliest — jails in California.

Listen to part two of this series here.

Wikimedia Commons

Positive cases of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison have now surpassed 1,000, including more than a hundred prison workers who tested positive. The outbreak started after a transfer of incarcerated people from Chino.

Mark Heard / Flickr Creative Commons


The California Judicial Council voted Wednesday to end a policy setting the baseline bail at $0 for people accused of nonviolent crimes.

Just how are this 20 year old murder case, the death of George Floyd connected?  The interaction of bias -- conscious and unconscious -- the media, the mega trial, and our evolving perception of justice.


The California Judicial Council met yesterday and set standards for how courts should operate during the COVID19 emergency.


San Francisco Sheriff's Department

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju sounded the alarm about the coronavirus dangers inside the county’s jails weeks ago. He called for the immediate release of inmates who are at the end of the sentences, and the release of people at heightened risk for the virus, like those who are elderly, or who have lung disease or diabetes.

Jenee Darden / KALW


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Jurors found John Lee Cowell, the man who killed 18-year-old Nia Wilson guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Now jurors have to decide on his mental state. Even as the case winds down, emotions are still high. 

A’shanti Gholar is the founder of the Brown Girl's Guide to Politics and the national political director for Emerge America--a national organization devoted to getting more democratic women into office. You'll hear how A’shanti went from watching CSPAN as a kid, with her mom, to working for President Barack Obama, the DNC and the NAACP before joining Emerge America. And she'll share what it's going to take to get more women of color elected to office.

Criminal Law: New Treatment Regimes?

Dec 18, 2019

  For December 18th, our last broadcast of this year, 2019, YLR considers the changing criminal law and penalty paradigm. We move from mass incarceration towards treatment, as specialty courts guide implementation of the new treatment regimes. My guests include San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum (ret.) and Dean Johnson, Emmy-nominated commentator on both legal and political matters. Questions for Jeff's guests? Please call toll-free 866-798-8255.

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. 

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.

City Visions: What is life like after incarceration?

Jun 10, 2019
Photo by M-SUR


Another in our series on criminal justice in the Bay Area, this show focuses on life after incarceration, or what’s known as “reentry.”

The prisoner who died twice, and lived

May 6, 2019
Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

Wilbert Stoneham has been incarcerated since the 70s – a time when prisons were especially dangerous, guards were particularly unpleasant, and Stoneham was one of their targets. He had a terrible relationship with the “watchers” which continued for over 40 years ... until the day he died.  

Replace Our System of Bail 2019?

May 1, 2019

  Tonight, 7pm May 1, 2019, we discuss OUR SYSTEM OF BAIL: WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S WRONG? Should we still have a cash bail system? If we abolish, what would a successor program look like? If we maintain, is there a way to fix the current system?

Inside the hunt for a wildfire arsonist

Apr 23, 2019
Courtesy of Alan Carlson

Hundreds of California’s wildfires are set on purpose, and the arsonists who start them are rarely caught. This is how CAL Fire caught one of them.

Photo by RJ Muna



On this edition of Your Call, we’ll hear from women whose loved ones have been incarcerated. One in four women and nearly one in two Black women has a family member in prison. Seven million children have had an incarcerated parent. The US has a quarter of the world's prisoners, but only five percent of the world's population.

Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

A lot of people are in prison for crimes related to marijuana. But some believe that cannabis could have kept them away from crime, and out of prison.

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. 

Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:


When undocumented immigrants are released from prison they can face deportation. Charles Joseph, who was born in Fiji, says that is what will happen to him.

Courtesy of Nikki Jones

University of California, Berkeley sociologist Nikki Jones is a criminal justice researcher and her latest book is about violence in black neighborhoods and black men with criminal histories who are trying to change their lives. She spent years in the lower Fillmore getting to know the community and what it is like to live in their rapidly changing neighborhood.

Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

Life without the possibility of parole — LWOP — is a sentence in some ways equal to the death penalty. It means you will spend the rest of your life in prison. The only reprieve is by a governor's commutation or pardon, which is as rare as snow in Barstow, California.

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. 

City Visions: Why has juvenile crime declined?

Apr 1, 2019


Tonight we continue our series on Criminal Justice in the Bay Area, this time with a focus on the juvenile justice system.

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

Uncuffed poetry: Spoon Jackson

Mar 19, 2019

“At Night I Fly” by Spoon Jackson

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

One year ago today, two police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento.

Portrait by Christy Zuccarini



On this edition of Your Call, we’ll speak with Chris Wilson about his new book, The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose.

Photo by Sam Beebe

  On this edition of Your Call, we’ll discuss progress and next steps in criminal justice reform.

Flikr User Thomas Hawk / used under CC BY-NC 2.0

BART riders are on edge after a spate of killings on the system, including the brutal stabbing of 18-year-old Nia Wilson. In the wake of the violence, the transit agency announced plans for a $28 million dollar security package. That proposal includes a ban on panhandling, a fierce crackdown on fare evasion, and a ramped up surveillance system.