California

Understanding the Bay Area's human trafficking problem: KPFA News interviews reporter Jason Winshell

Michael Stoll, SF Public Press — Mar 14 2012 - 2:21pm

The Public Press’ latest print edition cover story, on California’s uncoordinated attack on the problem of human trafficking, has been picked up in a variety of media since the publication of the special team reporting project in the Spring 2012 edition: “Force, Fraud Coercion: Human Trafficking in the Bay Area.” The project was produced in collaboration with New America Media and El Tecolote, San Francisco’s bilingual newspaper. Last week Public Press reporter Jason Winshell was interviewed on KPFA Radio by producer Anthony Fest. Winshell’s lead story showed that four years after a high-profile state task force issued a study, many of its recommendations for better laws, funding and coordination among agencies have yet to materialize.

State labor agencies slow to coordinate with law enforcement on trafficking cases

Alejandra Cuéllar, El Tecolote / SF Public Press — Feb 27 2012 - 12:42pm

This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Despite a strongly worded recommendation from a California-wide task force four years ago urging labor standards officials to look for signs of human trafficking, state and local investigators say there has so far been little coordination or direct follow-up with law enforcement or organizations supporting victims. The task force, which was disbanded in 2007 but is reconvening throughout this spring, outlined the need to identify and rescue victims — as opposed to deporting them in the course of routine labor enforcement sweeps.

How an infamous Berkeley human trafficking case fueled reform

Viji Sundaram, New America Media / SF Public Press — Feb 16 2012 - 11:43am

Advocates for increased prison terms say 10-year-old sex trafficking case changed conversation

This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. (Read in Spanish at La Opiñon/Impremedia. Leer en español en La Opiñon/Impremedia.)

Lakireddy Balireddy shocked the Bay Area a decade ago when investigators discovered how the Berkeley landlord transported young women and girls from India for sex. He served eight years in prison. His case still inspires reformers who want to put human traffickers away for longer.This year’s campaign to get tougher anti-trafficking laws on the November ballot as a voter initiative is the latest attempt to deal with what proponents call the unfinished business of legal reform.

Bay Area agencies improvise tactics to battle trafficking

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Feb 15 2012 - 1:47pm

With little guidance from state leaders, local police, nonprofits fight for scarce funding

This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Across California, local agencies have been left to scramble for limited resources and improvise strategies to fight human trafficking, a problem whose scope has yet to be defined with reliable numbers. A high-profile state task force studying California’s human trafficking problem made 46 recommendations in October 2007 but set up no mechanism to monitor progress. Attorney General Kamala Harris has begun picking up the pieces this year. But without clear guidance from the state, nine regional task forces sprung up to devise their own solutions. Their efforts have been supported mostly by federal grants. But as the funding rules become more stringent, the groups at times have been pitted against each other for resources.

Counties ready to handle state's juvenile offenders, study says

Michael Montgomery, California Watch — Feb 9 2012 - 6:03pm

County governments have invested nearly a half-billion dollars over the past 15 years to modernize juvenile lockups and now have the capacity to absorb offenders currently housed in the state’s youth prisons, if those facilities are closed, a new study contends. The report by the San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice offers fresh data in support of Gov. Jerry Brown’s renewed push to shutter the state’s three remaining youth prisons as part of a historic realignment of California’s criminal justice system.

State funding ends for California libraries

Holly McDede, KALW News — Feb 6 2012 - 8:15pm

The bad news is that state funding for California libraries has been completely eliminated. There’s not really any good news about that, except that it was expected. This past July, state library funding was sliced in half, and there was a trigger amendment attached to the budget that would eliminate state funding for public libraries at midyear if the state's revenue projections were not met. Needless to say, they weren’t.

Payday loan industry: the stories

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Feb 3 2012 - 10:44pm

Public Press writer Rick Jurgens reported on San Francisco's payday loan industry in our Winter 2011 print edition. He found that large corporations like Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse are among the biggest backers of these profitable low-finance firms. A subsequent whirl around the world of social media has revealed that payday loans are a fact of financial life for many, and some alternatives do exist. 

End of redevelopment agencies traps billions in local government loans

Kendall Taggart, California Watch — Feb 2 2012 - 10:17pm

More than 400 redevelopment agencies have been officially shuttered, leaving a trail of uncertainty – and a potentially staggering debt load. Across the state, cities and counties have loaned more than $4 billion to their redevelopment agencies over the past few decades, but according to the law governing how agencies will be dissolved, they may not be able to recover that money.

California drugmaker's HIV prevention pill sparks public health debate

Bernice Yeung, California Watch — Jan 30 2012 - 2:38pm

Foster City drugmaker Gilead recently updated its application with the federal Food and Drug Administration for approval to market its HIV treatment medication Truvada as an  HIV prevention pill. If the FDA approves Truvada for preventive use, it “would be the first agent indicated for uninfected individuals to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV through sex,” according to a company statement at the time of the filing in December 2011.

Fight brewing over historic California plan to close last 3 youth prisons

Susan Ferriss, IWATCH News — Jan 26 2012 - 11:13am

California, often a trendsetter, could make history if it approves Gov. Jerry Brown’s bid to close all state-run youth prisons and eliminate its state Division of Juvenile Justice. Much depends, though, on whether the state’s politically influential prison guards, probation officers and district attorneys can be convinced — or forced by legislators — to agree to Brown’s proposal. That won’t be an easy sell, due to both public-safety arguments and sure-to-surface haggling over just who pays to house juvenile offenders.

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