Cops & Courts

Criminal justice news


It's been over a year since President Donald Trump issued an executive order promising to halt federal funding for cities that limit cooperation with immigration agents. After the order was made, mayors from across the country vowed to remain so called “sanctuary cities” anyway. 

Photo by Rodney Dunning used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0



On this edition of Your Call, we’re discussing white supremacists and neo-nazis inside and outside of police forces. Recent reporting shows how police have ignored or even worked with white supremacists at political rallies.

Donna Personna


For decades, the story of the Compton's Cafeteria riot was lost to history. Few people knew about the courageous drag queen who fought back against police with a cup of hot coffee, or the transgender women who took to the streets that night. But now a theater piece is bringing that act of resistance back to life.

Margaret Shear / Flickr / Creative Commons

Everyone in San Francisco seems to have a story about a car break-in. It’s expensive, frustrating — and predictable.

flickr user Dank Depot via creative commons


On this edition of Your Call: Now that marijuana is legal in California, who will benefit? And how will racially biased drug laws change?

Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons

When people who commit minor crimes can't pay their fines, they often end up in jail. It's just one aspect of systemic inequality in the criminal justice system. Peter Edelman explores this racially biased system in his new book Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America.

He argues that the phrases 'school-to-prison pipeline' and 'cradle-to-prison pipeline' are too narrow. The United States has developed a criminal justice system that ensures a cradle to coffin pipeline. What's being done to change a system that traps entire communities in inescapable cycles of poverty? We'll speak with Edelman and Brendon Woods, the first African American public defender in Alameda County.


Amber Miller


California is becoming the largest legal marijuana market in the nation. It’s estimated that the industry will bring in more than $1 billion in taxes every year.

A San Francisco jury last week found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of murder in the death of Kate Steinle.


Donald Trump has nominated more than five times as many judges to the federal courts as Barack Obama had at this point in his Presidency.

Incidents of police misconduct here in the Bay Area and nationwide have fueled widespread public concern. That’s what inspired filmmaker Pete Nicks to make his documentary movie “The Force,” which is out right now.


A federal judge declared Colorado’s sex-offender registry unconstitutional earlier this month, ruling that making sex-offenders' addresses, ages and photos accessible to the public is cruel and unusual punishment. Now, an effort to reform California’s own sex-offender registry is raising questions and concerns.


San Quentin Radio: Lockdown

Sep 14, 2017
Nigel Poor

A lockdown happens when correctional officers decide there is a threat to the safety and security of a prison. That might be a fight, an assault, or a race riot. So what's it like in a lockdown? 

In the new documentary The Force, an Oakland police officer tells new recruits, “I don’t want bad cops. Period. I don’t need them.” In the film, director Peter Nicks follows the Oakland Police Department over two years.

Native American judges are using traditional concepts of justice to restore their communities rather than punish offenders and send even more people to prison. The new documentary Tribal Justice highlights tribal courts that incorporate indigenous customs and beliefs into their justice systems.

Andy Bosselman

In the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the San Francisco Police Department may be preventing injection drug users from getting clean needles. That could violate the department’s own guidelines — and have deadly consequences.


Officials in Berkeley and San Francisco are bracing themselves for competing political rallies planned for this weekend.



Police reform is a polarizing issue.


Native American judges are using traditional concepts of justice to restore their communities rather than punish offenders and send even more people to prison. The new documentary Tribal Justice highlights tribal courts that incorporate indigenous customs and beliefs into their justice systems.

Courtesy of 4&20 Blackbirds


African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana charges. That’s true nationwide, and in Oakland, too.


The Oakland Police Department’s own investigation into the Bay Area police sexual exploitation scandal was “wholly inadequate” and “defective.”


Does the pretrial detention and bail bond system embolden predatory practices?

Sandy Valenciano/California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

Even in sanctuary cities, undocumented immigrants aren’t always safe from being handed over to ICE agents. In fact, it's happened right here in the well-known sanctuary city of San Francisco.

CC Flickr user George Grinstead, resized and recropped


Throughout the prison system men are dying from incurable diseases. Sometimes these inmates are granted freedom through a program called Compassionate Release.

San Francisco Sherriff's Department / cropped and resized

All week long, we've been playing this sound and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.

San Francisco Sheriff Department


Since the early 1960s, a big chunk of San Francisco’s criminal justice system has been living inside the Hall of Justice. With its faulty elevators and occasional flooding, the building already has a bad reputation for employees who work there.


Then there are the people who have no choice but to live there.


We’ll have a conversation with prison reform activist, Susan Burton, about her book Becoming Ms. Burton.  

Your Call: Jeff Sessions transforming the Department of Justice

Jun 1, 2017
Photo by Barry Bahler. Used under CC by US Department of Homeland Security

How is US Attorney General Jeff Sessions reshaping the Department of Justice and national policies?

Meet one of the jailhouse lawyers at San Quentin Prison

May 24, 2017
Nancy Mullane


You can’t practice law while serving time in prison, but at San Quentin, there are inmates who represent themselves and offer legal assistance to other inmates. You won’t find any of them with law degrees, but what you will find are men who have a passion for fighting for their freedom, and the freedom of their fellow inmates.

Cropped and reused from Wikimedia Commons:

The murder rate across Bay Area cities has risen in the last two years, reflecting national trends. But, when a homicide happens in the city of Richmond, the chances that the assailant will be arrested are pretty low. In fact, the city has the second lowest clearance rates for homicides in the state of California. Why is that? And what’s being done about it?

Your Call: Neil Gorsuch's judicial philosophy

Mar 21, 2017

On the second day of Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing, we'll discuss his judicial record and philosophy, and what it tells us about how he might rule on the Supreme Court.