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Series on Group Home Abuses Earns Journalism Honor

California houses 1,800 adults with severe disabilities in five group homes, and has created a special police force to protect them. But all too often, the police charged with investigating crimes against these group-home residents fail to conduct even the most basic investigations when these vulnerable people are harmed or killed.

California Watch, a reporting initiative of 36-year-old Center for Investigative Reporting, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its series "Broken Shield," which catalogued these patient abuses in an 18-month investigation. In the wake of the stories, state lawmakers are deciding whether to create a special inspector general who would be in charge of overseeing these centers. The state is also considering closing a center in Sonoma, Calif., which saw some of the worst abuses. The series also sparked criminal investigations and new state laws.

"This series truly gave a voice to the voiceless and held the government accountable," said CIR's Executive Director Robert J. Rosenthal, in a news report after the Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday.

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