Cops & Courts

Criminal justice news

Live storytelling from San Quentin

Jan 2, 2017
Photo by Peter Merts


Today we have a rare opportunity to hear from the men in the San Quentin Wednesday Night Creative Writing Class, in a live storytelling event inside the prison's education center.

Photo by Holly McDede

When you think of the tools in a police officer’s toolkit, you probably think of devices like handcuffs, pepper spray, and stun guns. But there’s another device that you probably haven’t heard of. It’s called the WRAP. 



For years, activists have been pushing for a community-led police commission to keep tabs on the Oakland Police Department. The Department’s involvement in a recent sexual misconduct scandal has brought the need for increased oversight into sharp focus.



If you’ve moved to California recently, you might not realize its one of 30 states with the death penalty—because, these days, no one’s being executed. This November, voters will decide if they want to speed up the death penalty appeals process...or get rid of the death penalty altogether. 

On the October 21st edition of Your Call, it’s our Friday media roundtable. This week, we’ll discuss coverage of the battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq.

Holly McDede


When Stanford student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in prison for sexual assault, lots of people thought he deserved a longer sentence. They saw a white, college athlete let off the hook.


Julie Caine


In January 1969, two members of the Black Panther Party – Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter and John Huggins – were shot and killed on the campus of UCLA.

San Quentin Prison Report: A nephew's forgiveness

Sep 21, 2016
Post News Group


In this segment from the San Quentin Prison Report, Reporter Tommy Shakur-Ross brings us the story of two inmates discovering they are linked by a murder — and how they manage forgiveness.

Holly McDede


Finding a new police chief can be complicated. Just ask San Francisco.

Activists, politicians, and police union members all have opinions about who should replace former chief Greg Suhr, who resigned under pressure after activists protested several officer involved shootings.

Does Urban Shield help or harm?

Sep 7, 2016
Sandhya Dirks

Mass shootings, natural catastrophes, hostage situations — all of these will be taking place in Alameda County this weekend. But don’t worry! They're all a part of elaborate mock scenario drills for the 10th annual Urban Shield, one of the largest law enforcement training exercises in the country. 

99% Invisible: The Blazer Experiment

Aug 29, 2016
Photo courtesy of Darryl M. Lindsay

In 1968, the police department in Menlo Park, California hired a new police chief. His name was Victor Cizanckas and his main goal was to reform the department, which had a strained relationship with the community at the time.

Holly J. McDede


This story originally aired in December of 2015.

Earlier this month, demonstrators around the Bay Area gathered to protest against the police killings of two African American men: Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. 

Carla Hernández Ramírez

On the July 13th edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with journalist Sarah Shourd about her new play The Box, which is based on years of conversations with people who have lived in solitary confinement.

On the July 7th edition of Your Call, Rose Aguilar and her guests will talk about the high-profile killings of two black men by police in recent days. 

Lady Jay talks about being transgender in prison

Jun 21, 2016

Four thousand inmates are housed at San Quentin, a men’s prison in Marin County. Only a small handful of them identify as transgender.  Reporter Louis A. Scott has the story of how one of them learned to stand her ground.

Oakland Police O25 Occupy Oakland Oscar Grant Plaza, Steve Rhodes, used under CC license, cropped and resized

Update: The headline has been changed to reflect that fact that the allegations include statutory rape and human trafficking.

Up until recently, the Oakland Police Department appeared to be moving past the racial profiling scandals and police brutality charges that plagued the department. 

Holly McDede


Last month, Jessica Williams, a 29-year-old black woman, was shot and killed by a single bullet fired by a police sergeant in San Francisco’s Bayview District. William’s death reportedly marked the 21st fatal officer involved shooting under former Chief Greg Suhr’s watch.


Used under CC by Roger Jones / flickr

On the May 26th edition of Your Call, we’ll talk about what it will take to reform San Francisco’s police department. 

Jessica Christian/San Francisco Examiner

On the May 4th edition of Your Call we’ll discuss the Frisco Five hunger strike. 

San Quentin Prison Report: Learning to code

Apr 20, 2016
Courtesy The Last Mile

What do San Quentin and Silicon Valley have in common? Geographically they’re pretty close. But otherwise…they can seem pretty far apart.

Kevin Jones

This isn’t the story of another police shooting. It’s the story of what happens after a police shooting. Especially one in particular.

"2569" by flikr user Jeremy Brooks used under CC license. Resized and cropped.


There’s been a 45 percent increase in mental health-related calls to BART police since 2011. When officers don’t know what to do, they call Armando Sandoval.


On the March 10th edition of Your Call, we’ll revisit our conversation with Journalist Ioan Grillo about his new book, “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America.” 

Wikimedia user Zboralski. Used under CC BY. Resized and Cropped

Mandi Hauwert is a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison.  She's not the average correctional officer.  Hauwert is transgender.  She started working as a male officer inside the walls of San Quentin seven years ago.  Making such a transition is not easy even out in society. She tells us what it's like to transition while working inside a men's prison.

The shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview by police officers in December embroiled San Franciscans in the conversation about police confrontations with people of color that has been carried out in cities across the nation over the last year.  

Elisabeth Fall/

Monday, January 4th at 5pm, tune in to hear “Stories from San Quentin,” a special broadcast from Life of the Law featuring powerful human stories of prisoners, staff and volunteers at California's oldest prison.



Street protests and town hall meetings swiftly followed the shooting death  by police last week of 26-year-old Mario Woods in San Francisco’s Bayview district.

Image by Flickr user Daniel Arauz, with Creative Commons license. This photo was resized and cropped.


EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article contained errors that have been corrected, below:

* We stated that Brian Hofer had been working for a decade to scale back Oakland's Domain Awareness Center (DAC). The public became aware of the DAC in 2013, and Hofer began his work on the DAC in January of 2014.

Monday, October 19:  As part of City Vision's election coverage, guest host Eric Jansen sat down with the incumbent, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his challengers, former interim Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and former Sheriff's Lieutenant John Robinson, to discuss the issues at stake in the election for Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco.

San Quentin Prison Report: Surviving prison

Oct 5, 2015
flickr user: ah zut.

The first day of school or work can be nerve racking for anyone. Being a new kid on the block takes some getting used to. Now imagine a person's first day at a maximum-security prison.  How do you wrap your mind around coming from the everyday world to the violent and chaotic environment of prison life? Reporter Greg Eskridge introduces you to men who take us on their journey of survival through their first day of incarceration.