Rina Palta

Reporter, editor, and audio producer based in California.


A lot of criminal justice policy happens at the local level – in California’s 58 individual, and somewhat quirky, counties. Take juvenile justice for instance. Every county runs its own juvenile probation department and each one has the same mandate: offer young offenders the chance to be rehabilitated. But somehow, juvenile halls in different parts of the state look totally different. Monterey, which has twice the population of Santa Cruz, has about 10 times the number of kids locked up in its juvenile hall.

Deceit, Disrepair and Death Inside a Southern California Rental Empire

Ten feet away, in the living room of the mobile home, her young parents slept on the couch, in front of the TV. The baby’s father, Lorenzo Lozano, woke up first, minutes before midnight.

The baby girl was in her crib when the fire broke out.

Lozano ran toward the baby’s room to rescue Jenica, but it was too hot. The fire burned his head and back. All the couple could do was run outside and watch as the flames rose higher and engulfed the mobile home. A neighbor called 911, shouting:

She woke

Officer Involved: A call for help

Clutching a small hammer, she walked into the Asian Pacific Family Center in Rosemead, where she’d been receiving treatment for her mental illness for 12 years. The clinic director called the local Los Angeles sheriff’s station for help, telling a dispatcher she was a “low-level” threat and of “small stature.” Eng was 40, stood under 5 feet and weighed less than 100 pounds. Dr. Glenn Masuda told the dispatcher Eng suffered from psychosis and was sitting “very calmly” in the lobby with the ballpe

Broke: Why more California families are becoming homeless

Why more California families are becoming homeless

Daejanae Marshall remembers waking up in a panic before 5 a.m. Something was wrong.

She was 22 and a new mom. And baby Zah'Nyah was her world. “I had promised myself there’s things I was going to do while I was pregnant,” she said. “And after meeting my baby, I was like: I have to get us a place. You have to have your own room.” Marshall was homeless. She had a job at a movie theater and cash assistance from the state, but that didn’t cover re

Listen to 'Coronavirus in California: Stories From the Front Lines'

The Los Angeles Times is launching a new podcast, as part of our mission to chronicle California. It’s called “Coronavirus in California: Stories From the Front Lines,” and I’m the host. Every weekday, our podcast will give listeners dispatches from Californians who are in the thick of this pandemic — to let residents know what’s going on now, and tell everyone else about the state of what’s next. We’re a worldwide leader in the good and the bad — the eternal cycle of boom and bust. And coronavi

Asian Enough: A new podcast from the L.A. Times

From the Los Angeles Times, “Asian Enough” is a podcast about being Asian American — the joys, the complications and everything in between. In each episode, hosts Jen Yamato and Frank Shyong of The Times invite celebrity guests to share their personal stories and unpack identity on their own terms.

They explore the vast diaspora across cultures, backgrounds and generations, share “Bad Asian Confessions,” and try to expand the ways in which being Asian American is defined. The first and second e

Anaheim Opened A Homeless Shelter So Fast That People Aren't Sure If It's a Feat Or A Failure

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The City of Anaheim opened a new homeless shelter in December and depending on who you ask, the site is either a shining example of a city's compassionate response to homelessness -- or a cautionary tale for cities looking to clear their sidewalks quickly.

Orange Coun

Thousands of LA's homeless shelter beds are empty. Here's why

Every night, some 43,000 people sleep on the streets of Los Angeles County in tents, cars and makeshift structures. So why do thousands of beds run by the biggest homeless agencies go empty at night?

A KPCC investigation found reports of bedbugs, rats, foul odors, poor lighting, harassment, lax care in medical wards and even a “chicken incubator” in a room where homeless people were sleeping.

Public documents — including monitoring reports from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHS

RVs are becoming an alternative to high rents in LA

Melody Groundflyer lives in a rented box truck in the Silver Lake Neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“It’s kind of exciting,” she said. “I mean, I don’t plan on doing it forever, but for now it’s kind of exciting and fun.”

There’s a solar panel on the roof, she has a camping stove, a cooler, and a camping toilet. When it gets hot, she puts dry ice in a bucket with an upside down fan.

“I have a gym membership and I shower after I work out every day,” she said.

Anybody who lives in a vehicle on t

How affordable housing keeps LA economically segregated

They’re clustered in Downtown Los Angeles. They follow the 110 through South L.A., appearing on vacant lots, and in previously industrial areas. A cluster surrounds MacArthur Park. Some sit inconspicuously under solar panels and pretty facades in ritzier neighborhoods.

But mostly, KPCC found, publicly-funded affordable housing developments in Los Angeles County have overwhelmingly been built in L.A.’s very poorest neighborhoods.

According to a KPCC analysis of state treasurer records and U.C.

Suicidal LA jail inmate, later found dead, was left alone for hours

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies assigned to check on a suicidal Twin Towers inmate left him alone for nearly three hours, according to county records, in violation of department protocol. When deputies did check Li Zhu’s cell, they found him dead, having strangled himself with a piece of his mattress.

An autopsy report by the L.A. County Coroner’s Department says Zhu, 68, was arrested on January 8 on suspicion of murdering his daughter-in-law, Xiaolin Li. The Arcadia police department arrested L

Realignment: Many women in prison serve more time (photos)

Join Take Two each weekday at 9 AM where we’ll translate the day’s headlines for Southern California, making sense of the news and cultural events that people are talking about. Find us on 89.3 KPCC, hosted by A Martinez.

Caryn Quincey holds up a photo she keeps in her jail cell at “Twin Towers” lockup in Downtown Los Angeles.

"Different, right?" she said.

The photo was taken a few days before she went to jail on a conviction related to financial fraud. That was two years ago, but in the phot

Inside Corcoran prison's SHU - Security Housing Units (Photos)

Join Take Two each weekday at 9 AM where we’ll translate the day’s headlines for Southern California, making sense of the news and cultural events that people are talking about. Find us on 89.3 KPCC, hosted by A Martinez.

This summer, thousands of prisoners in California went on a hunger strike to protest solitary confinement in what's known as Security Housing Units, or the SHU.

Inmates say the isolated conditions in the SHU are intolerable, and the strike — in part — prompted the legislature

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About Me

I edit accountability and investigative stories on the technology industry for The Markup. Prior to that I launched podcasts for the LA Times and  spent over a decade covering crime , the criminal justice system, and  the social safety net for NPR stations in California.