Nicole Jones


Nicole Jones joined KALW's Crosscurrents team in 2010 as a reporter covering criminal justice and public safety. Jones is an alum of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Time's online edition and The Bay Citizen

Imagine you’re 18 years old and you commit a crime. A robbery. You go to prison at one of the only women’s facilities in the state. You get out a year later, on parole – and you’re back in the same neighborhood where you first got in trouble. You commit another crime. And the cycle starts all over again. That’s what happened to Courtney Samson.

Much of the information young people receive is increasingly, if not exclusively, supplied by the Internet. A big part of this influx of information is from the website Wikipedia. The English-language version of the web-based encyclopedia has more than four million entries – and it is consistently ranked as one of the most visited websites in the world. In the last few years, Wikipedia has started spreading to college classrooms, but not without its share of controversies and concerns.

Courtesy of The Spot

More of a police presence and better police community relations are good ways to prevent violence, but a group of young men in Oakland are trying a different approach. They call themselves "Warriors for Peace,” and they are part of a violence prevention program that equips and trains teens to make films about Oakland. The hope is that from behind a lens, they will see their city, and themselves, a little differently. 

Cal Fire

It’s summer in California, which means fire season is in full force – and it could be the worst one in years. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL FIRE, responds to more than 5,000 wildfires each year. They protect more than 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands and provide emergency services for most of the state’s counties.

Not too long ago, the men now sitting around a table at the Contra Costa Probation Office were in prison. “I want to ask how long have you been in prison,” Chief Adult Probation Officer Philip Kader asks them. They respond with three, six and even 12 times.

Criminal justice expert David Onek recently sat down with Stanford law professor Joan Petersilia to talk about California’s criminal justice realignment. Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former San Francisco Police Commissioner; Petersilia is the former President of the American Society of Criminology and served as a special advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s what they had to say.

UC Davis police officers dousing a line of seated Occupy protesters with pepper spray should and could have been prevented, according to a scathing 190-page report released Wednesday by a campus task force created to investigate the incident.

“Even a cursory reading of the report confirms what we have known from the start: Friday, Nov. 18 was a bad day for the UC Davis community and for the entire UC system,” UC President Mark Yudof said in a statement on the release of UC Davis pepper-spray report.

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk/Creative Commons

In a conference room at the BART police headquarters in downtown Oakland, a DVD plays a scenario. The screen shows a woman, and she’s really angry. She’s just been locked out of her house after finding out her husband is cheating on her.

“Goddamn it, this is my house, let me in bitch, are you cheating on me?” the woman yells “I hate you! Why are you doing this to me?”

Her aggression grows, quickly turning violent. She kicks one officer, and he falls to the ground. An officer in the DVD tells the woman to drop the shovel, but the woman continues to yell.

Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark has been with the Police Department for 25 years. But there are some things that even experience doesn’t teach. Up until now, he’s been trained to respond to incidents.

What does it mean to be a transgendered person in prison? A collection of writings on queer, transgender and prison politics shed light on these two populations and their struggles.

Released last fall, the book Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex brings together stories and poems from current and former prisoners, activists, and academics looking at how race, gender and sexuality are experienced when a person is incarcerated.

Nicole Jones / KALW News

Occupy brought the movement to San Quentin State Prison on Monday afternoon. Over 600 people peacefully assembled in front of the prison’s East gate to protest prison conditions. The San Quentin rally is just one of the 15 that took place as part of National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.

Jasna Hodzic/California Aggie/Courtesy

This week's criminal justice headlines.

How an infamous Berkeley human trafficking case fueled reform Advocates for increased prison terms say 10-year-old sex trafficking case changed conversation. (SF Public Press)

Photo Courtesy of CDCR

A spokesperson with California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has confirmed that an inmate on a hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison died on Feb. 2 after refusing food for four days.

Gomez began fasting to protest conditions in the Administration Segregation Unit at Corcoran. Over thirty inmates housed in the isolation unit at Corcoran had also been refusing food since January for the same reason. On Feb. 13, all inmates resumed eating, according to CDCR’s spokesperson Terry Thornton. 


A new bill is on the block would allow counties to use AB 109 funds to pay for out-of-state contracts to house inmates, similar to how the states currently contract with other states. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and Senator Tony Strickland introduced the bill in hopes of giving counties more options for housing inmates sentenced to local jails. Jackson spoke with KALW’S Nicole Jones on why he thinks this is a smart move for overburdened counties.Al

Courtesy of

Criminal justice realignment is changing the way probation officers are managing offenders, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Motivational interviewing is reemerging in probation offices across the state as a tool to better prepare probationers for reentry. Studies show that motivational interviewing and other techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and positive client development will prevent inmates from becoming repeat offenders.

Photo Courtesy of

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.

On a typical day at Brightworks, a private school in San Francisco’s Mission District, students are welding, listening to indie music, and writing novels. The school opened its doors last September with a simple goal: trust your kids more.

The total enrollment for Brightworks is 30 students. They range in age from six to 12 years old. Mackenzie Rose-Price is a teacher at Brightworks, but they don’t call her that at the school. Instead, she’s a “collaborator.”

Art can be extraordinary. It can convey beauty ... imagination  ... and wonder. For some artists, it can literally communicate what their words cannot.

In Oakland, artists with developmental disabilities find a place to express themselves at the Creative Growth Art Center. But budget cuts to county and state social service programs are making it harder for them to pursue their artistic visions.

KALW’s Nicole Jones reports.

TOM DI MARIA: That’s a big painting, Barry. What color are you painting right now?


The education of young people is increasingly, if not exclusively, coming from the internet. And a big part of it is from the website Wikipedia. The English-language version alone has more than three million entries. It’s consistently ranked as one of the most visited websites in the world, after Facebook and before Twitter. And in the last few years, Wikipedia has started spreading to college classrooms, but not without its share of controversies and concerns.