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Happy Nearly 2022!… And a Request From WitnessLA

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

The year of 2021 has presented unique challenges for all of us — in Los Angeles and in the nation.

Yet, before we leave 2021 behind, we want to quickly remind you of a few of the stories that made up WitnessLA’s year of reporting—and give you a preview of what we will be reporting in 2022!

However, to accomplish our new goals we need your support.

As for the reporting…

This year, we broke the news that, after LA County Probation officials got repeated reports that a staff member had sexually assaulted a teenage girl on multiple occasions, for nearly a year those same officials did nothing to investigate.

We also brought you news of how and why, in a startling and historic vote, the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) declared LA County’s two juvenile halls to be “unsuitable for youth habitation.”

In our five-part #PregnantBehindBars series Taylor Walker introduced you to LA County’s unique Maternal Health Diversion Program, how it has helped individual women recalibrate their lives and futures, and how and why this excellent and statistically effective program is still critically underfunded. (Part 5 came out today.)

In our ongoing DJJ Watch series, we revealed how a low vax rate, a staff superspreader party, plus poor enforcement of basic COVID precautions resulted in a new & dangerous virus outbreak in CA’s youth prisons.

When it comes to the LASD, we continued to report on such topics as how Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s “criminal investigations” of so-called adversaries is having a chilling effect on oversight of world’s largest sheriff’s department—and lots more.

Next year Sheriff Villanueva is up for reelection—against a list of challengers.  Our coverage of this race will be essential reading, we promise.

This year, though one of our guest op-ed authors, we began looking at how and why LA County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), breaks up Black, Native American, and low-income families at far higher rates than white and wealthier families.

In another story we looked at research showing that 58% of Black children in LA will endure a DCFS investigation before the age of 18. The same is true for about half of the county’s Native American kids.

In 2022, we will continue the conversation with the launch of a new series that probes the urgent need for reform of the nation’s largest regional child welfare system.

In the new year, we will also bring you the results of our investigations into some painful and important issues of justice and injustice, which you will not want to miss.

Plus, in addition to our reporting, in September 2021, we began a period of sharpening our goals when editor Celeste Fremon along with WitnessLA was chosen as one of ten John S. Knight Community Impact Journalism fellows, selected from around the U.S.

You’ll begin seeing the results of this reimagining and planning in 2022 as the JSK Fellowship continues its work.

In short, we have a lot of things planned for 2022, but we can’t do this work alone.

So, we’re reaching out to you.

Here’s the deal:   If you make a donation before the end of the day today, December 31, our friends at NewsMatch will double any donations to WitnessLA — up to $1000.

We know from the feedback we get from readers how much you value our reporting. So, this year, if you are able, please turn your caring and enthusiasm into a donation — of any size — to help us continue our reporting.

You can still donate after 2021 turns into 2022.  But to double your effect, you have until midnight.

To those of you who have already donated, we appreciate your support beyond measure.

And thanks, as always, for reading WitnessLA and the California Justice Report. We feel privileged to be in your company.

So Happy New Year! Stay safe! See you in 2022!

Celeste Fremon
Founder / Editor

Taylor Walker
Assistant Editor

Photo at top courtesy of Grand Park/TheMusic Center

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