Friday, May 27, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Ron Jones, CBS

FOLSOM (CBS13) — Dozens of women in prison learned technical skills that could help keep them from ending up back behind bars.

Some of the women are coming out of prison in less than 30 days and are hoping to find a career.

It could be any graduation ceremony across the country. There are congratulatory speeches and diplomas, but there are no caps or gowns. Fenced in behind barbed wire and concrete, the graduates aren’t allowed to leave.

Good Day

Inmates from Folsom Prison are giving back in the most unusual way.

The Associated Press

An accomplice of a man convicted decades ago of killing 14 young men and boys then dumping their naked bodies along Southern California freeways has been killed in prison, officials said Thursday.

Gregory Miley, 54, died Wednesday after being attacked two days earlier by another inmate in an exercise yard at Mule Creek State Prison, state corrections department spokesman Joe Orlando said. Mule Creek houses about 3,000 inmates in Ione, about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Mari Erin Roth, Plumas County News

Dennis Kordalewski headed for the airport in Rhode Island at 3 a.m. on May 9, to attend the parole hearing May 12, of Darrell Glenn Welch in Ione. Welch was convicted of killing Kordalewski's brother, Stephen. Welch is serving a sentence of 34 years to life for the murder that took place May 16, 1991.

The two men, Stephen Kordalewski, age 30, and Welch, age 31, were arguing inside a Quincy bar, known as "The Bank Club." The bartender on duty said that Welch was aggressively accusing Kordalewski of being a drug enforcement agent. Being disruptive, the two were told to take their disagreement outside, and authorities were called.

DEATH PENALTY

Chris Rooney, Twin City Times

San Quentin State Prison doesn’t really fit in with its Marin County neighbors — some of the most dangerous criminals just a stone’s throw from a community with a serious hippie background. Also, in a liberal environment, the prison is one of the state’s few providers of the death penalty. It’s just not a match made in Heaven.

However, it looks like voters will be chiming in on the death penalty this November, either expediting — or eliminating — executions.

A campaign supporting a ballot initiative to speed up executions for inmates on death row in California submitted signatures last week to appear on the same ballot that is expected to include an opposing measure to entirely repeal capital punishment.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Sudhin Thanawala, KPCC

The California Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a criminal sentence of 50 years to life for a juvenile convicted of murder who argued that the punishment violated a U.S. Supreme Court decision because it was the equivalent of life without parole and required by law.

In a unanimous ruling, the California high court cited a state law that gives juvenile offenders the right to a parole hearing within 25 years.

The Tribune

In a trial the judge called one of the most difficult cases he’s presided over, two former prison guards were acquitted Thursday of all charges against them in the death of a well-known North County vineyard manager following a 2014 fight outside a San Miguel bar.

Before a San Luis Obispo courtroom packed with family and friends of both the victim and the defendants, a jury found Travis Woolf, 37, of San Miguel and Sergio Aranda, 36, of Salinas not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges in the death of La Vista Vineyards manager Alvaro Medrano, 54, who suffered fatal brain injuries in a fight involving at least eight people outside the Elkhorn Bar on Sept. 7, 2014.

Dom Pruett, The Reporter

With help from the Fairfield Police Department, Solano County Sheriff’s Office, Solano County Probation Department, California Department of Parole, and California State Prison, Solano, the Vacaville Police Department’s Vice Unit enacted its Probation Parole Sweep Wednesday.

Beginning at 10 a.m., Vacaville Police personnel, along with the 65 officers from the six agencies who assisted, split into seven mixed teams, each with specific targets to their team, Vacaville Investigations Lt. Matt Lydon said. Each team had a Vacaville Police Department representative, and it was Vacaville who was responsible for processing each arrest. In total, approximately 100 locations throughout Vacaville were targeted on that day, which ran until 8 p.m, Lydon confirmed.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's inspector general says a seventh state prison still is providing inadequate medical care after 10 years of reforms intended to improve conditions.

Inspectors have found that more than a third of the 17 prisons inspected since last year are still providing poor care.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Nicole Comstock, FOX 40 News

SACRAMENTO -- Over 14,000 inmates in California prisons who were convicted of serious crimes in their youth and sentenced as adults are now eligible for early parole hearings under new state laws.

SB 261, a youth offender parole law that went into effect in January of 2016 raised the age of eligibility for these parole hearings. Under a 2014 law, youth offenders who committed crimes before the age of 18, many of whom faced life sentences, became eligible for parole hearings after serving between just 15 and 25 years behind bars. This 2016 amendment to the law includes youth offenders who committed their crimes before the age of 23.

The new law sites the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults and takes into account their subsequent growth and maturity. This consideration follows a Supreme Court ruling that highlighted scientific research showing parts of the brain that affect judgement and decision-making are not fully developed for many people until they are in their 20s.

OPINION

The Press-Enterprise

The Press-Enterprise has recently published two articles regarding pay raises for California state prison officers, one by Sal Rodriguez [“No time to throw money at prison guards,” Opinion, April 7] and the other by Adam Summers [“Sending taxpayers to debtor’s prison,” Opinion, April 28]. Having spent nearly 30 years working in California’s prisons, I would like to suggest that both of these writers should spend a few days inside a prison to see the dangers that our correctional officers (15 percent female staff) face every day.

The violence and daily stress confronting our correctional peace officers in state prisons is real, but another reality is that these peace officers are at the bottom of the pay scales among all peace officer categories in California. The base salary of a sergeant for the bankrupt city of San Bernardino is $125,000 per year, not counting overtime. Mr. Rodriguez, and other writers, likes to print that the California Department of Corrections officers routinely earn $100,000, with overtime. This figure pales in comparison with the incomes of the area’s sheriff department and police forces, where you may find many earning over $200,000 with overtime. Forced to work overtime on a weekly basis is not a benefit, it can wreak havoc on officers’ families. The correctional peace officers of California deserve every dollar they earn.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Margie Shafer, CBS

VACAVILLE (KCBS) — A dry patch of soil on land inside a prison in Vacaville is being transformed into a drought-tolerant garden in part of a prison program intended to transform inmates’ lives through connection to nature.

Down the main line, past the concrete walls at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, a select group of men plant seedlings outside.

Across the prison yard, Cornell Bevans points out how the men are segregated based on color in the garden you have to trust and work together.

“We’ve got tools.  That’s not something you normally feel comfortable with around another inmate. Usually we use tools to do something negative, but this is doing something positive,” Bevans said.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Do American prisoners suffer from environmental discrimination?
Cara Bayles, The Atlantic

Glenn Towery had already served 11 years for stealing a car at gunpoint when he was transferred to Kern Valley State Prison in 2009. Riding up I-5 to the San Joaquin Valley, 150 miles north of his native Los Angeles, he probably smelled the sulfuric odor of industrial cow lots. But once he arrived, he would inhale something worse: a fungus that might kill him.

Towery complained of flu-like symptoms for a year before he was diagnosed. He’d wake coated in sweat. “It feels like something heavy is on my chest,” he told one nurse. Eventually, doctors found that he had an enlarged heart. A test revealed he had valley fever.

For the majority of people, valley fever, a disease brought on by breathing in fungus spores native to the desert dust of the southwestern United States, is harmless. But in 40 percent of the population, the disease can cause sore throats and muscle aches, and if the infection spreads, skin ulcers, bone legions, even inflammation of the heart or brain. Its severity varies by race: Black patients are 14 times more likely than white patients to suffer complications; Filipinos are 175 times more likely.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Scott Schwebke, OC Register

ANAHEIM – Austin Barry stood outside of the Honda Center on Tuesday looking for a little redemption and a job.

Just eight days out of prison for a robbery conviction, the 24-year-old Mission Viejo resident was among 200 former offenders who attended the Orange County Re-entry Resource Fair, which connected felons with employment opportunities, legal advice and drug-treatment programs.

“I’m looking for a fresh start, which is kind of hard for any person with a record,” said Barry, who served a 2 1/2-year sentence at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Correctional News

STOCKTON, Calif. — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently marked the 25th anniversary of the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility and the 50th anniversary of the O.H. Close School for Boys (now O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility), both located in Stockton.

“O.H. Close and N.A. Chaderjian have had some challenging times over the years and now are model institutions. I’m proud of the progress both facilities have made as we celebrate these significant anniversaries,” CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan said in a statement.

The anniversaries come soon after the successful termination of the Farrell lawsuit against the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which operates the Close and Chaderjian facilities, according to a statement by the CDCR. On January 16, 2003, Margaret Farrell, a taxpayer in the state of California filed a lawsuit against the director of what was then called the California Youth Authority (CYA). In her suit, Farrell claimed CYA was expending funds on policies, procedures and practices that were illegal under state law. Farrell additionally claimed that CYA failed in its statutory duties to provide adequate treatment and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders in its care. The lawsuit further alleged that the youth offenders were denied adequate medical, dental and mental health care.

Justin Forsett is shocked to learn that prisoners can play fantasy football
Ryan Wilson, CBS

Justin Forsett had an outta-nowhere breakout season for the Ravens in 2014, rushing for 1,266 yards and 8 touchdowns. He suffered through an injury-plagued 2015 that forced him to miss the final six games, but he remains a fantasy-football favorite to at least one inmate at San Quentin State Prison, which is located 25 miles from where Forsett played at the University of California.

Forsett heard about this during a recent visit to the prison as part of a program that exposed at-risk youth to the realities of life behind bars. As the group was walking through the yard -- "[it] actually looks like it does in the movies," Forsett wrote on his personal blog -- the Ravens running back was spotted by several inmates.

Carmen Marquez, KYMA

CALIPATRIA, Calif. – A prison visitor was arrested after officials say she tried to smuggle methamphetamine and heroin into Calipatria State Prison.

Fourty-seven-year-old Natalie Garcia was visiting inmate Edwin Mora, who was convicted of robbery.

Officers say the two shared a bag of Doritos and appeared nervous. An officer noticed there was more than just chips inside the bag.

When the two were separated officers say they found two individually wrapped bindles of methamphetamine inside the snack.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Dom Pruett, The Reporter

NOTE: The reporter has been informed that CMF’s garden is not the largest prison garden in the United States, and that while CMF’s garden is funded through CDCR’s Innovative Grants Program, Insight Garden Program as a whole is funded through grants and donations.

California Medical Facility inmate Tracy Collier, 42, never thought he’d one day be an avid gardener.

“I took all this stuff for granted,” Collier said, referring to his life before incarceration.

Now, he finds solace in his newfound passion.

“It’s helped me look at the environment and myself as one,” he said. “I’m thankful for this program. It gives me a chance to pay restitution to the community for the crimes I’ve committed.”

The program Collier is referring to is the Insight Garden Program, which has served more than 1,500 inmates by providing forms of rehabilitation and education through organic gardening.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Erika I. Ritchie, OC Register

heir cellblocks,” Duchene said. “When he gave an invitation to men to come across the yard and give their lives to God, as one came, more began coming and a very rowdy prison yard became still. Even men who didn’t come forward still respected the moment.”

A few months later, Saddleback Pastor John Baker returned to the prison and trained Duchene and others to lead Celebrate Recovery programs, aimed at helping them get their lives in order.

“There was something about Danny that was truly authentic,” said Baker, who oversees Duchene outside the prison walls. “You could see the pastor’s heart in him. He was doing everything he could to be a man of God. Rick turned to me and said, ‘We’ve got to hire Danny.’”

Max Ehrenfreund, The Washington Post

Reformers and policymakers who are concerned about the vast U.S. prison system have called for reducing the number of people behind bars. By that standard, they've made progress over the past several years, as the incarcerated population has declined from its peak in 2009.

Yet even as fewer people are behind bars, the number going to prison nationally changed little during that time — outside of California, where the Supreme Court ordered major reforms to the state's overcrowded system in 2011.

John Pfaff, a legal scholar at Fordham University, pointed out the paradox in a series of tweets on Tuesday. While more people are being sent to prison than in 2010, the total population declined because prisoners are serving shorter terms, partly as a result of lawmakers' efforts to reduce minimum sentences. The reduced sentencing are welcome for convicts and their families, but incarceration is not affecting fewer lives.

Eman Shurbaji, The Sentinel

Kings County's 10 percent unemployment rate is expected to shrink as more than 2,300 health care jobs are added over the next nine years, according to a recent economic report.

The new health care jobs are 3 percent more than the current number in Kings County. About half of the jobs are planned for registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants and medical assistants.

The report by Applied Development Economics, a Walnut Creek economics research agency, was commissioned by the Kings County Economic development Corporation (EDC) to plan for future areas of job growth.

David Downs, SF Gate

Funding to oppose California marijuana legalization this year has grown from a paltry $13,000 to over $60,000 thanks to a major group — the state’s prison guards.

Journalist Lee Fang, writing for The Intercept, reports on new campaign donation disclosures showing the state’s prison guards and police chiefs chipping in to keep pot illegal.

The funds were organized by John Lovell, “a longtime Sacramento lobbyist for police chiefs and prison guard supervisors. Lovell’s Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, a committee he created to defeat the pot initiative, raised $60,000 during the first three months of the year, according to a disclosure filed earlier this month.

Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown turned in nearly a million signatures on Friday backing his bid to ask voters to approve new ways to reduce California’s prison population, a spokesman said.

Brown wants voters in November to increase credits that allow adult inmates to get out of prison more quickly and to allow earlier parole for non-violent felons.

The measure “will give voters a chance to improve public safety by providing incentives for people to turn their lives around,” said Dan Newman, campaign spokesman Dan Newman said in an email.

Bob Egelko, SF Gate

Inmates infected with valley fever at a federal prison in Central California can sue the government for damages even though the prison is run by a private contractor, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is not involved in day-to-day operations at Taft Correctional Institution in Kern County, the bureau can be held responsible for placing the inmates there without warning them about an ongoing outbreak of the airborne illness, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. A warning might have allowed them to request a transfer or take precautions, the court said.

“Prisoners are often helpless to protect themselves from harm,” and “were particularly vulnerable to infection” at the Taft prison, in an area with one of the highest known concentrations of the fungus that causes cocci, or valley fever, the court said. It said the Bureau of Prisons might also be legally responsible for failing to build a covered walkway that would have protected inmates from fungus-infected dust, and for the absence of a prison policy to prevent spread of the disease.