Realignment is the state law that took effect last October. It reduces California prison populations by shifting lower level offenders to county jails.
That shift is the result of a Supreme Court decision ordering the state to reduce its prison population and fix the dire inmate healthcare system. Without prison realignment, California would have had to build up to nine prisons. So, last week state officials announced they would halt the planned prison construction, saving the state 1.5 billion dollars.
But county officials are concerned with this massive criminal justice transformation. The state has not guaranteed the money to pay for increasing populations in jails and under county supervision in the long-run. Gov. Jerry Brown has plans to place that guarantee in the state Constitution as part of a tax-hike initiative he is proposing for the November ballot. But, until that happens, counties are having to figure out how to do more with less money.
KALW’s Nicole Jones reports on one Bay Area county is handling the transition.
With two fatal officer involved shootings by BART police over the past couple of years and increasing citizen complaints, the department has implemented a number of changes, starting with the newly established BART Citizen Review Board. The board met early last month for a two-day session meant to demonstrate how BART police are trained in the laws of arrest, appropriate use of force and racial profiling.
KALW’s Nicole Jones has the story.
Santa Cruz is like no other city in the Golden State. It’s only got 60,000 residents. Yet it has a nationally renowned amusement park, a University of California, and a thriving downtown district. But like most cities riding the economic downturn, Santa Cruz cut its safety and administration budgets.# Cities like Oakland, with a track record of laying off its police force, can relate to having to do more with less. Now, a new predicative policing tool in Santa Cruz is showing other cities around the country — and the world — how they can make the most out of their resources. And it all starts with the question, “Why just count crime when you can prevent it?”
KALW’s Nicole Jones reports.
As a growing number of American women delay childbearing into their thirties and forties, the use of assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization, sperm banks, and egg donation has gone through the roof. In the growing world of egg donation, there’s a lucrative market for healthy young ovaries – not to mention the emotional value to infertile couples.
To young women looking to do good – and make a few thousand dollars – egg donation is an attractive idea. But not much is known about the procedure’s long-term health effects. With this intimate look, reporter Teresa Chin takes us inside the American egg trade.
Last January, an alternative custody program was made law in California. So far 10 women have been released early and by the end of the next year, the California Department of Corrections expects 500 women to be back in their communities. The goal? To thin out the state’s overcrowded prisons and to help reunite families. KALW’s Nicole Jones reports on how this early release program is rolling out one year later.
With gold continuing to sell at historically high prices, the hunt for the shiny mineral is alive and well. Mostly.
In 2009, California outlawed a technique known as suction dredge mining, which makes finding gold a bit easier than shaking a pan. Officials wanted to study potential damage to the Klamath River, an area where there was lots of dredging. KALW’S Hadley Robinson has the story about a struggle for power along the river.
After a series of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio last week, some observers are pointing to an unusual culprit. Yesterday seismologist John Armbruster told NPR that he thinks the quakes were related to an oil and gas extraction process called fracking.
JOHN ARMBRUSTER: Yongstown is an area which doesn’t have a history of earthquakes. This disposal well began operating in December of 2010. Three months later, the earthquakes begin.
Industry and government experts estimate there are hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in various shale formations across the country. Some people think there’s enough to meet the country’s natural gas needs for the next few centuries – assuming we can actually get to it. Which is where fracking comes in.
Here’s how it works: companies drill deep into the ground, a mile or two down, into shale – a hard but porous rock with little pockets of gas or oil speckled throughout. Then they inject highly pressurized frack fluid – a combination of water, sand and chemicals – to break up the rock and release the oil and gas.
Fracking has touched off something of an energy boom in this country. But it’s controversial. Last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency found chemicals commonly used in frack fluid in a Wyoming town’s water supply.
Environmentalist Bill Allayaud says the biggest problem with fracking is that we just don’t know that much about its long-term effects – but it’s happening right now in California. KALW’s Christopher Connelly reports.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the public debut of a man called Ishi. Ishi was Native American, a Yana from the Deer Creek area, about 150 miles northeast of Berkeley. And for the past century he’s been known as “the last wild Indian in North America.”
In some ways, he’s famous: The anthropology department building at UC Berkeley is named for Alfred Kroeber, the scholar who worked closely with Ishi, and Dwinelle Hall’s outdoor enclosure is named Ishi Court. UC Berkeley’s anthropology community held a conference in September dedicated to Ishi’s memory, and the California Museum in Sacramento has a yearlong exhibit featuring some of his possessions.
So, who was Ishi? And how could Ishi have been the so-called “last Indian” when close to a million Native Americans live in California today? Reporter Terria Smith – who is also California Native American – tells us Ishi’s story.
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