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In the Wrong Hands

By Center for Investigative Reporting

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Decades ago, California created a unique police force to investigate crimes and unexplained injuries inflicted upon some of society’s most vulnerable citizens—men and women with severe autism, cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities living in taxpayer-funded institutions. This police force, the Office of Protective Services, patrols exclusively at five state developmental centers where patients have been beaten, tortured and raped by staff members.

California Watch investigative reporter Ryan Gabrielson found, however, that the state force does an abysmal job bringing perpetrators to justice.

This app is a result of his 18-month investigation for California Watch and its parent organization, the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit and independent news organization. Gabrielson’s reporting exposed how sworn officers and detectives wait too long to start investigations, fail to collect evidence and ignore key witnesses—leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes.

His 2012 series, Broken Shield, prompted public outrage and far-reaching change that included a criminal investigation, new laws, shifts in policy and personnel shake-ups—all intended to better protect men and women with intellectual disabilities living in state developmental centers. Some have IQs in the single digits. Many have no family members to care for them. In every sense, they are wards of the state—and among the most vulnerable wards at that.

Many of the victims chronicled by California Watch are so disabled they cannot utter a word. Gabrielson’s reporting gave them a resounding voice.

“This is the type of reporting that ends up actually saving lives,” wrote Patricia L. McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, in thanking Gabrielson and California Watch.

Our initial series ran in February 2012, but Gabrielson uncovered more problems throughout the year, putting additional pressure on the state to initiate reforms. None of the reporting came easily. Gabrielson encountered one reluctant source after another. Police officials closed ranks.

In producing our ongoing series, California Watch published on every platform. Eight of the state’s biggest newspapers ran our stories on their front pages. Some ran editorials decrying the state’s failures. Broadcast versions produced by our in-house video team aired in every major market and on public radio stations. Gabrielson worked with senior multimedia producer Carrie Ching to create haunting videos that zeroed in on two especially horrific cases of abuse.

The 1,600 patients at these centers deserve every ounce of our efforts. We are extremely proud that Broken Shield spurred reforms that will ensure greater protections and justice for every one of them.

The app is organized as a book, including 12 chapters and an epilogue, as well as photographs and three short videos documenting the story.

What's New in Version 1.0.1

Updated editorial content

iPad Screenshots

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In the Wrong Hands
View In iTunes
  • Free
  • Category: News
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2013
  • Version: 1.0.1
  • Size: 863 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller: Center for Investigative Reporting
Rated 12+ for the following:
  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence

Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPad.

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