Kelly Davis


San Diego

Kelly Davis

California-based investigative reporter and editor focusing on the criminal justice system and vulnerable populations



County Program Requiring Random Searches for Welfare Applicants Is Being Challenged Again

A controversial county program that for years claimed it turned up fraud in 25 percent of all welfare applications is being challenged in court. San Diego County’s Project 100% requires anyone applying for California’s welfare program, CalWORKs, to agree to an unscheduled home inspection as part of the application process.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

Grand Jury Questions Sheriff Watchdog Group’s Decision to Dismiss 22 Death Investigations

A new report by the San Diego County Grand Jury questions a decision by the watchdog group that monitors county law enforcement to dismiss 22 investigations involving people who’d died in jail or during the process of arrest. The report urges the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board, which justified the decision by saying state law required it to dismiss the cases, to seek new legal advice.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

Report finds San Diego jails are failing inmates with mental illness

The report criticizes the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for not providing appropriate care for seriously mentally ill inmates, resulting in dozens of preventable suicides.
San Diego Union-Tribune Link to Story

Restraining Inmates in Labor Is Supposed to Be the Exception — in San Diego, It's the Norm

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department restrains women inmates who are in labor as a matter of routine, despite a state law that limits the use of restraints except in certain dangerous cases. When a pregnant woman is booked into a San Diego County jail, she’s told she “will be chained and handcuffed” when she delivers her baby, according to the Sheriff Department’s “Pregnant Patient’s Rights.”.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

San Diego's unorthodox homelessness solution: big tents

Bob McElroy strode through the busy entrance of the vast, gleaming-white tent, greeting people right and left. The prominent homeless services provider calls the new structure, located on the outskirts of downtown San Diego, “the Rolls-Royce of tents”. It is double-insulated and has wifi. And it is the sunny seaside destination’s millionaire-funded attempt to get a grip on an emergency that sees thousands of homeless people sleep on its streets every night.
The Guardian Link to Story

Bill Aims to Stop SDPD from Collecting DNA from Minors

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher introduced a bill last week targeting the San Diego Police Department policy that lets officers collect DNA from minors without the knowledge or consent of a parent or guardian. The policy, privacy rights advocates argue, doesn’t jibe with state law, which strictly limits when police can obtain a DNA sample from a minor.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

Police Oversight Group Set to Dismiss 22 Death Cases Without Investigation

The group tasked with investigating in-custody deaths and complaints against county law enforcement is on the cusp of dismissing 22 death cases without any investigation at all. The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board staff is recommending the dismissal of 22 investigations involving people who’ve died in county detention facilities or while being taken into custody.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

A Teenager Sued SDPD, and Was Documented as a Gang Member

This past March, Jamie Wilson received a letter from the San Diego Police Department, notifying her that her 17-year-old son had been added to CalGang, the state’s gang database. Wilson would have to appeal the decision to find out why he’d been added — but the timing seemed suspect. Only a few weeks earlier, on Feb. 14, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties had filed a lawsuit on behalf of Wilson and her son, challenging when San Diego police can collect DNA from minors.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

City Attorney Challenges SDPD on Rape Kit Testing

Two of San Diego’s top law enforcement officials remain at odds over how police should handle DNA evidence collected from victims of sexual assault. During her 2016 run for city attorney, and now almost a year into her tenure, Mara Elliott has repeatedly called for the San Diego Police Department to send all sexual assault kits to the crime lab for analysis.
Voice of San Diego Link to Story

Deadliest outbreak of hepatitis A in decades kills 14 in San Diego

Fourteen people have died from an outbreak of hepatitis A in San Diego, and experts believe it to be the deadliest outbreak of the disease in the US in decades, the Guardian has learned. In large part, the victims were homeless people who have had to contend with a lack of 24-hour public restrooms, even though hand-washing is one of the best defenses against infection.
The Guardian Link to Story

Ex-mayor hasn't made court-ordered restitution to charity

In 2013, former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor agreed to pay $2.1 million in restitution after she admitted to embezzling that amount from her late husband’s charity to feed a video poker habit. She was supposed to pay the money “when financially able to do so” under a deal with federal authorities that held off her prosecution for misappropriation of funds.
San Diego Union-Tribune Link to Story

Former mayor and twin sister helped seal affordable housing deal

The faces were familiar at the meetings that San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts held with San Diego Kind Corp., the company that has since become a pillar in the county’s new $25 million affordable housing development program. One was former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor, Roberts’ longtime friend and one-time City Council colleague, who in February introduced the long-serving Republican supervisor to the small nonprofit senior housing provider founded four decades ago by her twin sister, Mavourneen O’Connor.
San Diego Union-Tribune Link to Story


Kelly Davis

I'm a freelance journalist based in San Diego who focuses on issues related to adult and juvenile incarceration, mental illness and homelessness. Until March 2015, I was the associate editor at San Diego CityBeat, an alternative newsweekly that I helped start in 2002.

My work's included investigations into the high rate of deaths in San Diego County jails and a spike in suicide attempts at county juvenile detention facilities. I've also written extensively about California’s sex offender laws and the city of San Diego's ongoing efforts to address its large homeless population. My reporting has been honored by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. I'm currently a USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism California fellow.