Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


California inmate's parole reflects rethinking of life terms for youths

Marisa Gerber, The Los Angeles Times

Edel Gonzalez expected to die in prison for the crime he committed at 16.

For his role in the "savage, brutal and senseless" carjacking that ended in murder, an Orange County Superior Court judge in 1993 sentenced Gonzalez, who wasn't the triggerman, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But on Tuesday, Gonzalez, now 39, was released from the custody of the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — making him one of the first prisoners sentenced as a juvenile to be released since state lawmakers approved a landmark reform in 2012 that gave inmates like him the chance to earn parole.


Alameda County agrees to allocate more realignment funds to community-based organizations
Malaika Fraley, San Jose Mercury News

OAKLAND -- Alameda County will approximately double the money it spends on programs helping people coming out of jail and prison under a plan approved by supervisors Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to allocate 50 percent of public safety funds generated by prison realignment on community-based organizations that serve the re-entry population in fiscal year 2015-2016.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Multiple Murderer Dies Of Natural Causes After 28 Years On California’s Death Row

VACAVILLE (CBS SF) — A man who was on death row for killing three store clerks during a robbery spree three decades ago in Southern California has died of natural causes at a prison hospital in Vacaville, according to the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Teofilo Medina Jr., 70, was pronounced dead at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at California Medical Facility while on hospice care, state prison officials said.

Suit, by prisoner who sued over taken TV, dismissed

Ryan McCarthy, The Daily Republic

FAIRFIELD — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is entitled to a dismissal in the case of a state prison inmate in Vacaville who sued after he said guards confiscated his TV, Solano County Superior Court Paul Beeman ruled Monday.

David Scott Curtis, paid $325 to settle the case he filed after his TV was confiscated, said he misunderstood the settlement that covered the cost of his television and court filing fees. He sought to overturn the agreement.

Daughter of jailed Mexican Mafia kingpin sentenced to prison

LOS ANGELES, March 23 (Reuters) - The daughter of an imprisoned Mexican Mafia kingpin who pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug trafficking charges and admitted carrying out her father's orders in running a brutal Los Angeles street gang was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in prison.

The sentencing of 39-year-old Vianna Roman marked the final chapter in a lengthy federal case targeting the Harpys street gang that saw a total of 29 defendants charged under the U.S. Racketeer-Influences and Corrupt Organizations Act.


Board to Rescind Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders
Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that the anti- residency provisions were “unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive.”
Renee Schiavone, Patch

Riverside County supervisors are expected Tuesday to begin the process of nullifying an ordinance prohibiting where convicted sex offenders can reside.

The Office of County Counsel is requesting that the Board of Supervisors completely invalidate Ordinance 902 in order for the county to comply with a California Supreme Court finding that residency restrictions are no longer enforceable, except in narrowly defined circumstances.

Parolee faces 15 years for DUI wreck
Sonoma Index-Tribune

A Sonoma parolee is going back to prison for 15 years as the result of a no contest plea to multipe charges related to a high-speed chase incident in January.

Jason Patrick Smith, 44, of Sonoma, pleaded no contest Friday to DUI causing great bodily injury, and recklessly evading the police resulting in serious bodily injury.

Each of the offenses is considered a “strike” under California’s three strikes statute.


Alameda County Jail Population Drops, Supervisors Consider Reducing Sheriff's Budget

Sam Levin, East Bay Express

For months, East Bay advocates have argued that Alameda County should stop heavily investing its public safety funding in jails — and instead prioritize social services and community-based programs for people reentering society after incarceration. After significant debate, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will vote this week on a new public safety budget proposal — and activists say that newly released jail population statistics further demonstrate the need to shift the funding toward critical services and away from incarceration. The data shows notable declines in the number of people in county jail.

The controversy centers on the county's Public Safety Realignment budget, which is funding tied to Assembly Bill 109, a 2011 criminal justice reform initiative of Governor Jerry Brown. AB 109 made low-level, non-violent offenders the responsibility of counties — instead of the state prison system — and gave counties new funding designed to support reentry services and alternatives to jail. Over the years, county officials have allocated a majority of its available AB 109 funding to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which runs Santa Rita Jail. (For a summary of the spending controversy, check out our recent print story, "County to Spend More Money on Jails, Not Services").


Challengers to prison solitary gain support from Justice Kennedy

Bob Egelko, SF Gate

Inmates challenging lengthy solitary confinement in California prisons, a case scheduled to go to trial in Oakland this December, gained some high-placed moral support Monday from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy, who sometimes uses public forums to hold forth on injustices he sees in the U.S. penal system, did just that in testimony to a House committee in Washington on the court budget.

College for Convicts

Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed

Twenty-five miles from Montgomery, Ala., in the middle of the tough-on-crime, fiscally conservative Deep South, sits an unusual place of learning.

A 20-foot fence with razor wire surrounds the campus. Armed guards stand at the entrances. Students wear jumpsuits, with ID numbers printed on the right side of the chest.

San Diego Cops Pummel Chicago Counterparts — Legally and for Fun
Chris Stone, Times of San Diego

At least 10 Chicago police officers were injured in San Diego over the weekend, but the incident generated no headlines.

They were roughed up on the gridiron.

The perpetrators? Fellow local public safety officials enjoying their passion – football.

‘Constant suspicion’: Muslim police officers allege harassment

Advocacy groups say Muslim police face discrimination but it’s rarely documented, since officers ‘protect their own’
Halima Kazem, Al Jazeera America‎

Patrolling around mosques and checking in on schools in the dangerous south side of town was second nature for Richmond, California, police officer Mujaheed Rasheed.

"I felt like I could talk to people who were at their lowest point and reach out to them," said Rasheed, who was born and raised just 30 miles south of Richmond in Hayward. 

Daily Corrections Clips


Investment Guru Teaches Financial Literacy While Serving Life Sentence
Emily Green, NPR

Prison is perhaps the last place anyone would expect to learn about investing and money management.

But at San Quentin Prison, Curtis Carroll's class is a hot item. The 36-year-old has gained a reputation for his stock-picking prowess. He's even earned the nickname "Wall Street."

A Drunk Driver and His Victim
In a breathtakingly tragic ending to a promising life, a speeding, intoxicated driver slams into a young Ph.D. student walking in Del Mar, launches her 120 feet across the road and continues on his way as if nothing happened. Now he sits in Chino state prison.
Fred Dickey    

It’s Friday evening, March 28, 2014, and two lives are about to collide.

And shatter.

Rachel Anne Morrison is dining at Jake’s in Del Mar. Christopher “Chip” Stockmeyer is drinking at a bar in Encinitas, six miles to the north.

Rachel is a Ph.D. student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. A 27-year-old native of Massachusetts, she is considered a scholar of great promise and a popular and admired member of that scientific community.


Review cites California prison guards’ problems with guns, alcohol
Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO-California’s corrections department has a problem with off-duty prison guards brandishing or carrying firearms while they are intoxicated, the department’s inspector general said Friday.

One correctional officer danced atop a bar while drunkenly flashing his gun several times at private citizens in the tavern.

It’s good business to hire inmates, Gov. Brown tells companies
Carla Marinucci, The San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Jerry Brown urged business leaders Friday to take part in expanded programs to train and hire prisoners, saying such efforts have economic and humanitarian benefits for taxpayers.

“Crime and punishment is not only a great novel,” but a public safety concern that is “about what it means to be a human being,” Brown said Friday at the opening of the Bay Area Employer Forum, a meeting of business leaders at Oakland’s Merritt College.

CDCR and California Arts Council Bring Rehabilitative Arts Programs to State Prisons for a Second Year

Sierra Sun Times

March 2015 - Sacramento - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Arts Council are seeking arts organizations to work for the second year of a rehabilitative arts pilot program at prisons statewide.

Arts-in-Corrections programs can offer an array of performing, literary and visual arts disciplines,


Report casts more doubt on LAPD officials' rationale for killer's talk
Kate Mather, The Los Angeles Times

From the beginning, Los Angeles police justified their decision to bring a convicted murderer serving life in prison to downtown Los Angeles for a speaking engagement by saying the former Mexican Mafia shot-caller provided valuable insight to the police officials in attendance.

But on Friday, a report by the LAPD Police Commission's watchdog cast doubts on that explanation, as well as other decisions made by L.A. Police Department officials in organizing the private Jan. 28 lecture featuring Rene "Boxer" Enriquez.


Revealed: Scott Peterson is living a 'cushy' life on death row 10 years after he was sentenced to death for murdering 8-months-pregnant wife Laci and their unborn son
Ashley Collman, Daily Mail

Scott Peterson horrified the nation when he was convicted 10 years ago for murdering his 8-months-pregnant wife Laci and their unborn son Conner.

While he was sentenced to death for the crime, the likelihood that the 42-year-old will actually be executed is unlikely in California where the last death row inmate was killed in 2006.


California Overtime Tops $1B, Hits Pre-Recession High
The Associated Press

Overtime for California's state workers rose 20 percent last year and topped $1 billion even though there are 20,000 fewer employees than in pre-recession 2008, the last time the state paid out so much, according to new payroll data.

The increase comes after years of recommendations from the state auditor and budget analyst calling for reducing vacancies, using more relief staff and negotiating less-costly labor contracts for workers in state prisons and hospitals, which generate the most overtime pay.


It would be a devastating mistake to dismantle Proposition 47
Zachary Norris, The Sacramento Bee

Last November, Californians took a historic step forward in criminal justice reform by decisively passing Proposition 47, demonstrating widespread support for smart policies that improve public safety and end our punishment economy.

The measure requires that certain low-level offenses such as shoplifting or simple drug possession be charged as misdemeanors, and directs the millions in annual savings from reduced rates of incarceration towards mental health and drug treatment, school programs and victim services.

Cruel, Unusual, and Crowded

Will Brown v. Plata bring mass incarceration to an end?
Sara Mayeux, Reason

Imagine a society where convicts were sentenced to death by untreated renal failure or denial of chemotherapy. Modern Americans would surely consider such a place barbaric and cruel. Yet in the 1990s and 2000s, California essentially meted out such punishments, knowingly shoveling unprecedented numbers of convicts into overcrowded, underequipped prisons to serve long, hopeless sentences.

In 2006, "a preventable or possibly preventable death occurred" somewhere in California's prison system "once every five to six days," the U.S. Supreme Court observed in the 2011 case of Brown v. Plata. It's hard to find medical staff even for functional prisons; vacancies in the California system ranged from 20 percent for doctors to 44 percent for X-ray technicians. But an excess of inmates, more than a lack of doctors, caused the state's prison health care crisis. Built to house roughly 80,000 people, California's prisons were stuffed with twice that many residents, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency. With every cell full, prison officials had packed gymnasiums with double and triple bunks. In one such makeshift dormitory, a prisoner was beaten to death. No one on the prison staff noticed for several hours.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Death row inmate dies of unknown causes
The Associated Press

A man awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison for the rape and murder of his 15-year-old stepdaughter has died of unknown causes.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Thursday that 54-year-old Leon Chauncey Cooper died Wednesday at a hospital near San Quentin.

Making Multimedia Experts out of Web-Deprived Prisoners
David Tereshchuk, The Huffington Post

“The movie that struck me most this year was The Last Mile, a film that centers on the Internet - or to be precisely accurate ... an attention-grabbing total lack of it.

It's a documentary short set in California's infamous and oldest prison, San Quentin. There, amid many features and facilities that are desperately antiquated, authorities have long looked askance at the Internet. And with security concerns always the penitentiary's first priority, online communication has never - unsurprisingly - been made available to inmates.

But for some inmates - those in a special training program called "The Last Mile" for long-term prisoners nearing their release date - something quite extraordinary has happened.”


Law enforcement panel set to answer community questions
The Reporter

A town hall meeting with a goal to connect the community with law enforcement will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 at Three Oaks Community Center, 1100 Alamo Drive.

The free event, “Communities Connect with Law Enforcement: Working Together for Good,” will be a meeting and discussion panel and is open to the public.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Governor Brown Announces Appointments
Imperial Valley Press

Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the following appointments.

David Long, 49, of Tehachapi, has been appointed warden at the California City Correctional Facility, where he has served as acting warden since 2014. Long served in several positions at Ironwood State Prison from 1995 to 2014, including warden, chief deputy warden, correctional counselor and lieutenant. He was an associate warden at Mule Creek State Prison from 2006 to 2008 and a facility captain at the Adelanto Modified Community Correctional Complex from 2002 to 2006. Long served as a correctional officer at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison from 1989 to 1995. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $141,204. Long is a Republican.

CDCR chooses Kronos TeleStaff solution to keep them on track

Ashley Garst, Corrections One

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently switched to a new scheduling software system for its correctional officers and nursing staff. When it comes to managing 35,000 schedules across 34 facilities, the department knew that it needed a more advanced solution that would simplify the old, outdated process.
“We were looking for a new employee scheduling solution; our business partners had seen Kronos TeleStaff and said it was very user friendly,” says Ken Ritzman, user project manager of business information systems. “Our partners at the California Correctional Health Care Services [the office of the federal receiver who currently runs prison medical care] said that TeleStaff would also meet their needs, so we embarked on a process of creating a transition from [the old model] to TeleStaff.”


Entrepreneurial San Quentin Inmates Getting Chance To Pitch Ideas To Tech Leaders
CBS News

SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) — Entrepreneurial inmates at San Quentin are getting a chance to present their ideas to tech and business leaders.

A rehabilitative program founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti named The Last Mile offers a 24-week program for inmates to collaborate with business professionals to develop their ideas.

California high court agrees to reconsider 1993 murder case
Maura Dolan, The Los Angeles Times

A San Bernardino man convicted of murder in part because of discredited forensic evidence will have his case reviewed again by the California Supreme Court.

Meeting in closed session, the justices decided unanimously Wednesday to hear a challenge by William Richards, who was found guilty of murdering his wife, Pamela, in 1991.

Wiretaps link Taft men to meth smuggling ring

Taft Midway Driller

A defendant who federal prosecutors say played a key role in a drug smuggling operation that shipped drugs from Taft and other locations to Montana was convicted of two drug trafficking counts in February.

A federal jury in Billings convicted Mario Albert Villegas, 32, of Los Angeles conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute.


Violent sex offender captured in SLO after cutting off GPS bracelet

Matt Fountain, The San Luis Obispo Tribune

A convicted violent sex offender was arrested Wednesday in San Luis Obispo after allegedly removing his ankle monitoring device in the morning and then being caught several hours later by parole agents.

At about 5:50 a.m., California State Parole agents notified San Luis Obispo police that Avril Leroy King, 40, cut off his GPS ankle bracelet within the hour and had gone missing. The bracelet was later found by agents in the Mission area in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Did state do enough to protect Jarrae Estepp? Her mother says no, and seeks justice in daughter's death
Keegan Kyle, OC Register

Jodi Pier-Estepp wants the men accused of killing her daughter to face the death penalty or spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. And she wants state officials to pay for their mistakes.

In a $20 million claim filed last year, Pier-Estepp, 40, argued that the state failed to adequately monitor the two men – both registered sex offenders wearing GPS tracking devices – who are now charged with killing her daughter and three other women.

Ariz. shooting suspect served time for drugs, assault

Richard Ruelas and Craig Harris, USA Today

PHOENIX — Ryan Giroux, the suspect in a Mesa mass shooting that left one person dead, is a former Arizona Department of Corrections inmate with a history of police assaults and illegal drug use, according to police and prison records.

Giroux, 41, has a criminal record dating to the early 1990s and served a two-month county jail sentence last year for violating terms of a previous probation. His record includes convictions for drug possession, theft and aggravated assault, according to Arizona Department of Corrections records.

Yolo District Attorney: Prop. 47 creating ‘revolving door’ for crime
Sarah Dowling, Woodland Daily Democrat

Property and violent crime are on the rise in Yolo County, according to District Attorney Jeff Reisig who attributed the increase, in part, to two laws that keep low-level offenders out of jail.

Specifically, Reisig told Yolo Supervisors last week about how AB 109, and more recently, Proposition 47 have affected local crime rates, and the challenges his office has faced, and will continue to face, because of this.

Recent burglary increase likely an impact of Prop 47
Shannon Williams, Hanford Sentinel

The recent rash of burglaries that have plagued commercial businesses throughout Hanford may be a result of the passing of Proposition 47, according to Hanford Police Department officials.

Police say there were six break-ins reported last month and three more this month. No one has been arrested in connection with the burglaries.

Public Safety Realignment and Proposition 47: Public Planning Sessions

News 10

Assembly Bill 109, Public Safety Realignment, was enacted in 2011 in an effort to reduce state prison overcrowding by placing supervision and incarceration responsibilities for non-serious, non-sexual and non-violent offenders with local county criminal justice systems.  Adding to those responsibilities, Californians passed Proposition 47 in November which reduced penalties for certain offenders convicted of certain property and drug crimes and which allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences.  In addition, the measure requires any state savings that result be spent to support truancy (unexcused absences) prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victim services.

Suspect shot in SWAT standoff


A love triangle led to a shooting at a northwest Bakersfield home late Wednesday, prompting a manhunt that ended with a suspect cornered and shot in a hotel lobby west of Bakersfield Thursday morning, authorities reported.

Robert Burdge, 36, was armed and holed up inside the lobby of the Vagabond Inn near Stockdale Highway and Interstate 5, the BPD reported. Burdge was shot by a member of the SWAT team around 8:45 a.m.  Court records show Burdge has a pending misdemeanor DUI case after an arrest on Jan. 9.  He had a prior DUI conviction from August 2014. Burdge was divorced in 2013. 

Prison company says Mother Jones reporter was ‘never transparent’ about line of work
Erik Wemple Blog, Washington Post

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is lashing back at Mother Jones magazine after a reporter for the lefty publication resigned from his position at a Louisiana correctional facility. “Shane Bauer was hired as a correctional officer at Winn Correctional Facility in December 2014,” reads the opening line of the statement. “He did not indicate that he was a reporter for Mother Jones and, to our knowledge, he was never transparent about his occupation with facility leadership.”

Bauer, as discussed in this post from yesterday, is a senior reporter at Mother Jones who spent a harrowing 26 months in Iran’s Evin Prison after being detained while hiking with two others along the Iran-Iraq border in 2009. As noted in this 2012 piece for Mother Jones, Bauer came away from the experience with an acute and personal interest in the trauma of solitary confinement.


Drummond: More transparency needed with county realignment funds

Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune Columnist

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 109 into law. Realignment allowed people convicted of 500 "non-serious, non-violent and non-sex related" felonies to serve their sentences in county jail or in a supervised community release program.

The idea was to help reduce the state's prison population and the soaring costs of incarceration. Supporters of this major corrections policy shift saw it as an opportunity to break the cycle of re-incarceration by sending more low-level offenders to evidenced-based community programs that offer drug rehab, education, job training, anger management, housing and other services to help them to re-enter society.