I cover economic inequity and survival in California for CalMatters, with an investigative, data-driven lens.
My award-winning work has spurred new California laws, connected Californians with resources and informed national debate about police use of force.
I was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2021 for my work as a data reporter for a Reuters investigative series that examined “qualified immunity,” a legal doctrine that shields police who use excessive force.
I've previously written for Reuters News, Pacific Standard, SFGate, Public Radio International, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Santa Barbara Independent and more. My multimedia and investigative stories have touched on a wide range of topics, including criminal justice, immigration, wildfires, labor, the arts and more.
Contact me or tip me at email@example.com.
Yo reporto para CalMatters sobre la desigualdad económica y la supervivencia en California, con un enfoque de investigación basado en datos. Mis publicaciones en español se pueden encontrar en https://calmatters.org/category/calmatters-en-espanol/.
Mi trabajo galardonado ha impulsado nuevas leyes de California, ha conectado a los californianos con recursos, y ha informado el debate nacional sobre el uso de la fuerza por parte de la policía.
Recibí un Premio Pulitzer en Informes Explicativos en 2021 por mi trabajo como reportero de datos para una serie de investigación de Reuters que examinó la "inmunidad calificada", una doctrina legal que protege a los policías que usan fuerza excesiva.
Anteriormente escribí para Reuters News, Pacific Standard, SFGate, Public Radio International, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Santa Barbara Independent y más. Mis trabajos de investigación y multimedia han tocado una amplia gama de temas, que incluyen justicia penal, inmigración, incendios forestales, labor, arte y más.
Contáctame en firstname.lastname@example.org.
Effective barrier Aldaba's lament has become an increasingly common one. Even as the proliferation of police body cameras and bystander cellphone video has turned a national spotlight on extreme police tactics, qualified immunity, under the careful stewardship of the Supreme Court, is making it easier for officers to kill or injure civilians with impunity.
For years, the words "qualified immunity" were seldom heard outside of legal and academic circles, where critics have long contended that the doctrine is unjust. But outrage over the killing of George Floyd and incidents like it have made this 50-year-old legal doctrine - created by the U.S.
LEESBURG, Florida The night a cop killed Andrew Scott started out like many others had for the 26-year-old pizzeria worker. Home from his evening shift, he and his girlfriend, Miranda Mauck, ate a late supper and spent several hours watching television and playing video games.
Encounters like these, occurring across the United States, inform persistent complaints that racial bias poisons policing in the country - complaints that coalesced into a mass movement for policing reform after the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis cop.
For an exhaustive examination, powered by a pioneering data analysis of U.S. federal court cases, of the obscure legal doctrine of "qualified immunity" and how it shields police who use excessive force from prosecution.
When then-Stanford student Jackie Botts got to help Reuters staff as part of her Stanford journalism class, little did she know it would culminate into Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.
Data, investigative and enterprise reporting
About twice a week, the $9.99 per month internet connection falters. It's often as Mario Ramírez finally wrangles his kids into their seats - the fourth-grader studies in the bedroom he shares with his 12 year-old sister, who studies in her parents' bedroom - in time for virtual class.
Lea este artículo en español. In the first days of August, Fresno farmworker Brenda Yamileth, lined up for a COVID-19 test alongside her mother and brother. Feverish and headachy, she held her 10-month-old daughter. Soon, all four tested positive. She quarantined with her baby in one bedroom of her Mendota house while her husband and 2½-year-old son slept in the other.
Lea este artículo en español. Paz Aguilar continued working seven days a week at two fast food restaurants and as a janitor, even as Oakland seemed to be grinding to a halt around her. Then in late June, her life did too.
Lea este artículo en español. Beto V. heard the ambulance pull up to the Colonial Motel where he was quarantined by his employer, police sirens close behind. That was his first clue a fellow farmworker had died of COVID-19.
Until the pandemic struck, every day for the last 10 years, Isidoro Flores Contreras stood at the edge of the Sand City Costco parking lot, just a few feet from a set of McDonald's arches, selling $15 flower bouquets.
The pandemic has layered a health crisis on top of a housing crisis on top of a class divide. A clear pattern has emerged as the coronavirus spares some California neighborhoods and strikes others: The virus takes a heavier toll in neighborhoods where people pack into overcrowded homes, according to a CalMatters analysis of neighborhood-level data from 10 counties.
By Jackie Botts When Andrew Simmons first started getting billed for his son's stints in juvenile hall, he was shocked. "I just thought that was crazy. I mean you're going to arrest my kid and then you're going to charge me for it?" Simmons said.
Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation for the number of registered voters casting ballots on older, hackable machines with no paper trail. At a time when elections may be in peril from foreign interference, counties are slow to update their vulnerable equipment.
Two years ago the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shut off electricity at Will Hollman's home in the San Fernando Valley, forcing the family to rely on a gasoline generator. In late June of this year, the department disconnected the water, too - despite a statewide moratorium on water shutoffs that Gov.
California is expanding its Golden State Stimulus program for low-income households to middle-class families. Under a new budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Monday night, state lawmakers agreed to spend $8.1 billion to help out millions of working families.
Lea este artículo en español. A $600 check would go a long way for Janet Clendenin. The costs of the sugar-free foods she buys to manage her diabetes have risen sharply in South Lake Tahoe during the pandemic, Clendenin said. She usually has to criss-cross the picturesque region by bus to find discounts at Dollar Tree, Grocery Outlet and Walmart.
Lea este artículo en español. For more than three decades, Black members of Congress have introduced legislation to study the lasting harms of slavery on African Americans, and propose remedies. Year after year, the federal proposal languished. Now, California is going it alone.
Lea este artículo en español. At the start of the pandemic a year ago, today's news would have seemed unimaginable: The Golden State is sitting on a budget surplus so big, it's considering giving $600 stimulus checks to California households making up to $75,000, paying off back rent of tenants affected by COVID and helping millions of residents catch up on their water and electricity bills.
Lea este artículo en español. Heeding the calls of advocates and lawmakers, Gov. Gavin Newsom is pumping up to $24 million into his oft-touted-but-little-used program to help farmworkers self-isolate during the pandemic, offering new financial assistance and flexibility. However, it's unclear how much will actually get spent.
Lea este artículo en español. As President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion virus relief package heads to the Oval Office for his signature, the mammoth spending bill has the potential to reduce child poverty in the Golden State by half.
Lea este artículo en español. As Congress hammers out President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package, California has worked out its own plan to get more cash into the hands of struggling Californians, particularly undocumented families left out of federal assistance.
On paper, the Golden State appears to have escaped 2020 without a personal debt crisis. Despite an unprecedented 2.4 million jobs lost in the spring, Californians joined their fellow Americans in paying down interest-heavy debt such as credit card bills while acquiring wealth-building loans by taking out mortgages.
The first thing Deborah Bell-Holt does each morning is check whether water still flows from her bathroom faucet. It always does, thanks to an April executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom banning water disconnections during the pandemic. But that didn't stop her utility debt from snowballing to nearly $15,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's $227 billion California spending plan is setting records in more ways than one. Were his budget proposal approved by lawmakers as is, the state would spend an unprecedented amount to fend off poverty, eviction and K-12 education loss for California's most vulnerable residents in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
By late December, Maya Brady and her girlfriend owed Sacramento Property Management Services about $4,000. The company sent regular matter-of-fact texts to remind them that they're late on rent. Brady imagines the same text arrives to many of her mostly working class neighbors in the apartment complex.
A new bill could make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to apply for CalFresh, California's version of food stamps, and allow people to enroll entirely over the phone by 2024. "California's food insecurity crisis is worse than ever, and we have a moral responsibility to make CalFresh benefits easier to access," said Sen.
In 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom more than doubled how much money the state spends on its tax credit for low income workers. But since its establishment in 2015, the credit has been unavailable for undocumented workers who pay taxes, until now.
Lea este artículo en español. In the five years before the pandemic, low-income Californians had begun to see substantial wage gains, chipping away at the income inequality gap between California's haves and have-nots that has widened over the past 40 years.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Amazon of withholding information in California's ongoing investigation into the company's coronavirus protocols and COVID-19 cases at distribution facilities across the state. The move reveals fresh government scrutiny over Amazon's workplace safety practices since the online retailer has been on a hiring spree throughout the pandemic.
Lea este artículo en español. California's businesses must follow new rules to protect workers from getting coronavirus on the job, while harvesting companies must minimize overcrowding in guest farmworker housing following a California Divide investigation that uncovered rampant coronavirus outbreaks this summer among a low-wage workforce putting fresh produce on America's kitchen table.
As the pandemic grinds on in California, patterns have emerged: The people who contract COVID-19 tend less wealthy and less white, and many get sick at work. From senior nursing facilities to meatpacking plants to motel rooms of farmworkers brought from other countries to Amazon warehouses, the coronavirus has appeared in many workplaces.
Lea este artículo en español. California workplace safety officials issued a serious citation against a Kaiser Permanente psychiatric facility in Santa Clara, accusing the center of failing to provide workers with N95 masks and other protection against COVID-19. But the problems facing the health care giant may run much deeper.
Starting this week, Santa Barbara County has adopted new rules aimed at preventing explosive COVID-19 outbreaks among farmworkers brought on a special visa from other countries to harvest produce in the U.S.
Lea este artículo en español. Out of work for months in the spring, Mariana, who cleans houses, and her husband Gerardo, who is a door-to-door salesman, paid their landlord just $300 of their $1,200 rent for a one-bedroom apartment they crowd into with their 2-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, in National City.
Lea este artículo en español. Napa County doesn't collect data about coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces. Sonoma County does, but won't identify them because it would compromise the county's working relationship with employers. Alameda County won't share outbreak locations to protect privacy and to guard against what one health official called undue stigma.
Since the federal weekly $600 boost expired last month, unemployed Californians have been living on impossibly low budgets - and expect to do so in the coming months even if President Trump's weekend executive order helps break a partisan impasse in Congress.
Lea este artículo en español. The decade dawned on a California that was both "the richest and poorest" state in the nation, in the words of Gov. Gavin Newsom. Wages for the top 10% of California's earners had grown three times as fast as those of the bottom 10% of earners since 1980 - all as the cost of buying or renting shelter skyrocketed.
From hotel rooms for people who are homeless to restaurant meals for seniors isolating for their lives, California has rapidly expanded its safety net in an attempt to catch millions of residents impacted by the coronavirus and its economic aftershocks. In daily press conferences during the pandemic's first months, Gov.
The worries and hopes and raw fury of Californians showed that all protests, like politics, are local. Protesters had their own unique issues with their police force and their city. What and how they protest depends on where they live.
Lee este artículo en español. Early estimates indicate that the coronavirus pandemic has stolen jobs from non-citizen workers - including immigrants who have green cards, work visas or are undocumented - in California at higher rates than citizens. And women have suffered greater job loss than men.
Pacific Islander communities in California have long faced economic and health disparities that make them uniquely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Often overlooked by public health officials, community leaders are mounting their own response. For two weeks in March, Dr. Raynald Samoa fought to move air through his lungs.
In a bold strike against Silicon Valley's rideshare giants, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra used newfound enforcement powers to file a lawsuit today against Uber and Lyft for refusing to classify over half a million drivers as employees.
It's the latest example of an ambitious statewide coronavirus plan that was announced before it was ready to launch. Cities and counties were caught off-guard, even though they have to implement it. The total cost could reach billions of dollars per month. Last week Gov.
Californians have begun to see money appear in their bank accounts: $1,200 for single people and an extra $500 for each kid. But for Californians with consumer debt, that money could just as quickly vanish. The payments, part of the $2.2 trillion national coronavirus response package or CARES Act prohibits federal and state governments from intercepting the payments, except to collect child support debt.
More than 2 million undocumented workers, who do not quality for many state and federal benefits, are among the hardest hit Californians as the economy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Congress is working to provide an emergency relief fund that could benefit U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents.
A line of 500 to 600 people standing six feet apart snaked around a parking lot and multiple city blocks in downtown Los Angeles. Many were hotel and restaurant workers, Dodger Stadium employees and airline chefs. All had lost their jobs or were working reduced hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Donna Insalaco had to lay off 40 of the 45 employees at Pizzaiolo, her gourmet pizzeria in downtown Oakland, after sales fell through a "black hole." "A lot of tears," Insalaco said, "All of us here live check-to-check." Responding to a statewide call for restaurants to close their doors to dine-in customers, Pizzaiolo is now only offering pick-up and delivery.
Six utilities serving more than 21 million Californians have announced that they will not shut off customers' power for non-payment as the coronavirus continues to disrupt daily life. Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Power are taking the step until further notice.
On a typical day at the vast food bank warehouse in San Jose, 80 to 100 volunteers pack apples, oranges, pears, squash and cabbage into boxes to be shipped out to hundreds of distribution sites across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. On Tuesday, just 17 volunteers showed up.
For all the talk of electability, Sen. Bernie Sanders would have the Democratic presidential nomination in the bag if every voter were like Ryan Frye, his two adult brothers, his sister-in-law and his parents. The family, which shares a home in the small, rural town of Newman in California's Central Valley, have all pledged their allegiance to Sanders in the race.
Last May, Burger Patch first opened its doors in midtown Sacramento with a sign that said "No Cash Accepted." The owners of the organic and vegan burger joint were worried that a cash register might invite theft. But customers kept showing up with only cash.
By Jackie Botts In January, I sat among dozens of other reporters in California's Capitol as we peppered Gov. Gavin Newsom with questions about his spending plan for the year, a bulging $222 billion budget full of progressive proposals: $1.4 billion in new funds for homeless services, expansion of the state's health insurance for low-income residents, a proposal that the state manufacture generic drugs to bring prices down.
Updated January 8, 2020 California's most vexing issue is also its most shameful: the large and rising number of residents who lack a safe place to call home. In a state with vast amounts of wealth, more than 150,000 of its residents sleep in shelters, cars, or on the street.
Pacific Gas & Electric turned off power to Ana Patricia Rios' neighborhood in Sonoma County for eight days in October, three at the beginning of the month and five near the end. The mother of three young boys watched twice as nearly all of the food in her refrigerator spoiled.
A college student in Fresno who struggles with hunger has applied for food stamps three times. Another student, who is homeless in Sacramento, has applied twice. Each time, they were denied. A 61-year-old in-home caretaker in Oakland was cut off from food stamps last year when her paperwork got lost.
This story was updated on Oct. 14 to reflect Gov. Gavin Newsom's final decision to sign or veto each bill. Lawmakers have passed a suite of bills that aim to ease financial burdens for Californians living paycheck to paycheck.
As California struggles with a crisis in affordable housing, state lawmakers are trying to improve a severe shortage of housing available to renters who have federal Section 8 vouchers. The vouchers allow tenants to pay only 30% of their income toward rent, with federal assistance to pay the rest.
Pressure is increasing on counties to sign up more people for food stamps since the state's participation rate is one of the lowest in the nation. But greater enrollment may require more money or more state intervention. In May 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors set an ambitious goal: enroll 70,000 new families in food stamps in two years.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals. California, a state with the nation's highest poverty rate, consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to enrolling low-income people in CalFresh, the state's name for the federal food stamp program.
By Jackie Botts, CALmatters When Berenice Solis of Bakersfield received a direct deposit of $6,775 from the government this past March, her mind raced. She could finally take her three daughters, ages 4, 6 and 9, on a trip to Disneyland. Then she thought about her goal of buying a house.
Charley Parkhurst, a legendary stagecoach driver during California's Gold Rush, also known as "One-Eyed Charley" is seen in this illustration image, released by Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., on May 2, 2019.
A changing climate, increasingly destructive fires, and disappearing insurance policies have left homeowners wondering how much risk is too much.
On Oct. 21, when wildfires in Northern California were still smoldering, about 150 people gathered at a middle school gymnasium. Thousands more watched the livestream on Facebook. Officials in Sonoma County, the region most devastated by the fires, had put together a Spanish-language community forum to address the concerns of the Latino community - the first of its kind in the county.
Jeff Christner spots the folded credit card from several feet away. The white plastic pokes out from layers of crumbling sandstone, disintegrating cloth and glass. Christner brushes off decades of dust to reveal the card holder's name: HARRY HOFFMAN. The card expired in December 1959. Hoffman probably threw out the card with little thought.
The fighters circle around each other, eyes locked. One throws a swift kick at her opponent, who spins and ducks away. The pattern continues: spin, kick, escape. They're ringed by onlookers who clap and sing to the rhythm of tall drums and the , a musical bow with one string that produces a thick twang.
As indigenous people from Mexico migrate to California, their languages and cultures are threatened. One indigenous trilingual rapper based in Fresno is fighting back.