Jackie botts journ

Jackie Botts

Investigative data reporter

Location icon United States

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 jackiembotts@protonmail.com.

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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 jackiembotts@protonmail.com.

Portfolio

Pulitzer Prize

Reuters
05/08/2020
For cops who kill, special Supreme Court protection

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.

Reuters
08/25/2020
Shot by cops, thwarted by judges and geography

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.

Reuters
11/20/2020
When cops and America's cherished gun rights collide, cops win

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.

Reuters
12/23/2020
Challenging police violence ... while Black

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.

Data, investigative and enterprise reporting

CalMatters
04/28/2021
Millions of students can't afford broadband | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
12/19/2020
Why few farmworkers isolate in California's free COVID-19 hotel rooms | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
06/12/2020
Close Quarters: The neighborhoods where COVID collides with overcrowded homes

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.

Statehouse coverage

CalMatters
07/19/2021
Unpaid utility bills? California will pay off $2 billion to avoid shutoffs

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.

CalMatters
07/01/2021
Look up your Golden State Stimulus amount

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.

CalMatters
06/24/2021
Will disabled Californians on SSDI get Golden State Stimulus? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
05/10/2021
Newsom proposes expanding Golden State stimulus to middle class | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
03/24/2021
Newsom doubles down on sheltering farmworkers despite few takers | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
02/16/2021
Economic indicators mask pandemic's true toll | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
01/26/2021
Unpaid water bills top $1 billion in California | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
01/13/2021
How California's budget depends on staggering wealth gap | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
01/09/2021
Finally, rent relief for a graduate starting out in the job market | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
01/06/2021
Will COVID spur California to ease food stamp applications? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
12/14/2020
Becerra sues Amazon to cooperate with California's COVID-19 safety investigation | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
11/20/2020
California emergency workplace COVID-19 safety rules | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
10/30/2020
What Cal/OSHA has - and hasn't - been doing for workers? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
10/16/2020
Exclusive: Kaiser cited for failing to treat COVID-19 as airborne | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
09/08/2020
Newsom weighs aid for undocumented Californians with no safety net | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
08/28/2020
Why won't counties report workplace COVID outbreaks to the public? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
07/20/2020
How COVID is worsening California's income inequality | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
05/21/2020
Pandemic steals most from immigrant working women | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
05/05/2020
Overlooked Pacific Islanders hit hard by coronavirus | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
04/21/2020
California could protect stimulus checks from debt collectors. Will Newsom act? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
03/18/2020
Out of a job? Can't pay your bills? These proposals may help keep you afloat amid coronavirus

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.

CalMatters
02/28/2020
Are low-income voters Bernie's secret weapon? | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
03/02/2020
How one man found freedom from his struggle to survive in the Bay Area | CalMatters

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.

CalMatters
09/02/2019
Getting food stamps to poor Californians is surprisingly difficult | CalMatters

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.

sacbee
California could get $1.8 billion in food stamp funding. It just needs people to sign up

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.

Reuters
05/03/2019
ABCs of LGBTQ History Mandated for More U.S. Public Schools

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.

Public Radio International
After the California wildfires, community leaders are trying to rebuild homes - and trust in...

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.

Multimedia Storytelling

Local: In The Peninsula
04/09/2018
Experience Bay Area capoeira in 360 degrees

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.

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