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Public forum: What’s the future of Sonoma’s developmental center?

California Watch is inviting the public to share its thoughts, insights and experiences about the troubled Sonoma Developmental Center, the state’s largest board-and-care facility for the severely disabled.

Few people in California are more vulnerable than the patients at the Sonoma center. The people who live there suffer from cerebral palsy, severe autism, and other mental, intellectual and physical disabilities. Many have no family to take care of them.

For more than a year, California Watch reporter Ryan Gabrielson has been investigating the Sonoma facility. The stories have revealed widespread problems with the center’s treatment of patients by staff members and a little-known state police force charged with investigating crimes at the facility. Patients at one unit in Sonoma suffered clear evidence of sexual assault, but their cases were never properly investigated. 

Now, the Sonoma facility is facing severe sanctions and possible closure of its largest housing units. The center employs more than 1,000 people from the region.

What does this new development mean for the city of Sonoma, the developmental center and its patients, and the people who live in surrounding communities?

We invite you to a forum that will feature a panel discussion with community members and experts. The panel will be moderated by Phil Bronstein, the executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting, the parent organization of California Watch. Gabrielson will also outline his stories and answer questions.

Please come and share your thoughts, insights, experiences and questions with the community. Learn more about the entire investigation here, and read about what happened in Sonoma on our website. 


RSVP on Eventbrite

When: Jan. 30

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Where: Ramekins: 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma

*This event is free, but space is limited and registration is required. It is part of California Watch's Future State – a series of public events that aims to drive solutions-oriented dialogue based on fact and data on issues facing California's future.


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