KQED Radio Staff
Host and Reporter, The California Report
Senior Correspondent, KQED NEWSROOM
Scott Shafer serves as host of KQED Public Radio's statewide news program The California Report. He's also senior correspondent for KQED NEWSROOM, the weekly news and public affairs program on television, radio and digital. As a journalist, he has been honored by numerous institutions, including Radio Television Digital News Association, San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, the Society for Professional Journalists and Public Radio News Directors Inc. Before arriving at KQED, Scott worked in state and local government. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming and playing water polo.
Email Scott: email@example.com
Call Scott: (415) 553-2255
Stories (321 archives)
The state's approach to criminal justice has gone in a new direction under Gov. Jerry Brown, driven in part by a court order to improve inmate health care and reduce the state's prison population. The problem dates back to 1990 and a lawsuit over the quality of mental health care for inmates. Underlying it all: too many prisoners and too few cells. In 2011, the Legislature passed the most fundamental reform of California's criminal justice system in more than a generation. It was called "realignment," and it transferred responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level criminals from state prisons to county jails and probation officers. How has realignment worked so far, and how hasn't it?
The 1930s were the glory years for California companies like Standard Oil and Occidental Petroleum — with new oil reserves being found all the time. But in recent decades, oil and gas production has been falling as old wells began drying up. But production is up again in the past few years — largely because of the process known as hydraulic fracturing — or fracking. Fracking has been a huge economic boon in places like North Dakota and Pennsylvania. But it's also been extremely controversial. Environmentalists have pressed for a ban on fracking in California — and the issue is on the November ballot in several counties. But in fact, fracking isn't new at all in California. It's been happening for more than 40 years in Kern County, north of Los Angeles.
We begin a special edition of The California Report with a road trip tour of the Central Valley. Host Scott Shafer and Central Valley Bureau Chief Sasha Khokha talk with farmers, ranchers and residents as California's prolonged drought takes its toll. Scott and Sasha tour Tulare County, talking with an almond grower and with a farmworker family, whose well has run dry. They also check in with Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida, and with the man who runs the water system for the town of Poplar.
There's a profound change underway in California's criminal justice system. Inmates serving life sentences with the possibility of parole are being released in record numbers. Since 2009, nearly 2,300 lifers have been paroled. Gov. Brown's office insists it has nothing to do with the state's prison overcrowding issue, rather he says, it's being driven by recent court rulings that make it harder to deny parole if inmates are no longer considered a public safety risk. Now, for the first time, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is offering classes aimed directly at lifers.
Anyone convicted of a crime can have a hard time even getting an interview, let alone a job. That's because most applications ask job seekers to check a box if they've been convicted of a crime. If they check the box, in many cases they get no further. But as of July 1, under the so-called "ban the box" bill signed by Gov. Brown, state and local government employers can no longer ask that question on job applications.