SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- California's shelters for abused and neglected children are funneling hundreds of youth into jail cells, often for very minor youthful outbursts, according to a new investigation by the The San Francisco Chronicle.
For the story, called "Fostering Failure," The Chronicle's Investigative Team acquired and analyzed thousands of calls to law enforcement agencies from the addresses of the state's 10 children's shelters. With the data from 2015 and 2016, plus more than 150 interviews, The Chronicle's analysis reveals that children are regularly arrested and booked into juvenile hall for relatively minor offenses.
Among the outbursts that led to arrests: Children who start a cake fight are arrested and accused of inciting a mob. Another who poked a caregiver with a candy cane is accused of assault with a deadly weapon. A child who clung to a shelter worker's leg spends the night in jail on suspicion of "simple battery."
"California has taken important steps to reform its foster care shelters in the past few years, yet many of those still operating are clearly failing many of the vulnerable kids they are charged with protecting," said Michael Gray, The Chronicle's Managing Editor for Enterprise and Investigations. "There is growing national attention to the problem of children crossing over from foster care into the criminal justice system, but less attention paid to how and why these children end up there. We found that too often, unnecessary and inappropriate actions led children from protective care to handcuffs and jail cells."
The story, which required several months of reporting by writers Karen de Sá, Joaquin Palomino and Cynthia Dizikes, published on May 18 as an exclusive to SFChronicle.com, the Chronicle's premium-journalism website. It will appear in print copies of the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, May 21.
"California operates the nation's largest foster care system, and it is vital that we do as much as possible to protect these children -- many of whom have seen and suffered unspeakable abuse from birth," said Chronicle Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper. "This investigation shines a bright light on the largely hidden world of children's shelters and how they are operated."
About The San Francisco Chronicle The San Francisco Chronicle (www.sfchronicle.com) is the largest newspaper in Northern California and the second largest on the West Coast. Acquired by Hearst Corporation in 2000, The San Francisco Chronicle was founded in 1865 by Charles and Michael de Young and has been awarded six Pulitzer Prizes for journalistic excellence. With name-brand voices and a keen editorial eye, the Chronicle is an authority that still surprises. Follow us on Twitter @SFChronicle.
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