Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

State Prisons reduce water use to save during the drought
Wasco State prison reduces use by 30%
Cassie Carlisle, KERO

WASCO, Calif. - Wasco State Prison is doing their part to save water.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation started a water conservation program in 2010 and now with mandatory water restrictions, the bar has been set even higher.

"Wasco took it upon itself when we saw the water shortages coming about," Lt. Patrick Salgado said.

Lions Clubs’ vision of service realized with prison’s help
Don Chaddock, The Folsom Telegraph

On a sunny afternoon at one of the state’s oldest prisons, two Lions Club members were proudly discussing a project going on behind the walls – The Folsom Project for the Visually Impaired.

The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) Digital Services Enterprise, also known as the California Assistive Technology Enterprise (CATE), provides a wide-range of services to assist the visually impaired and help rehabilitate inmates at Folsom State Prison.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

SAN QUENTIN: Man on death row for Riverside pizza-store murder kills himself
Brian Rokos, The Press Enterprise

Michael Lamont Jones, 44, who was convicted of murdering a Riverside pizza restaurant employee in 1989, committed suicide on Monday, May 25, at San Quentin State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday.

The cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, the death is being investigated as a suicide, a news release said. Jones was in a cell by himself.

CORRECTIONS RELATED
 

Washington Prisons Secretary Says No Plans To Ship Inmates Out-Of-State
Austin Jenkins, Spokane Public Radio‎

The Washington state Department of Corrections has contracted with The GEO Group, Inc, a Florida-based private prison company, to house up to 1,000 prisoners in Michigan to ease overcrowding.

In a May 21 press release, The GEO Group said it expects to begin taking in Washington prisoners starting this fall. However, a contradictory statement from the Washington DOC said, “There are no current plans to utilize the contract.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA INMATES

More than a prisoner 

Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate      

Arts-in-Corrections gives inmates an escape from prison life through art

Marquis Louden regards his canvas, brush in hand, and squirts a dollop of purple onto his pallette.

There’s a rose on his canvas, but Louden says he doesn’t want to turn it into a typical rose. He blends the purple with white and begins to create a background as vibrant as his surroundings are neutral.

Bard behind bars: Prison inmates perform ‘Macbeth’
Amy Maginnis-Honey, Daily Republic

VACAVILLE — More than four decades had passed since retired College of Marin drama professor Jim Dunn had seen his former student Steven Drown perform.

The reunion took place recently at California State Prison, Solano where Drown was one of about 25 prisoners who brought Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to life.

“I’m blown away,” Dunn said. “To do Shakespeare really brings the humanity in.”

Brooktrails Fire Abatement update
Adrian Baumann, Willits News

CalFire hand-crews continue to work in the Brooktrails Township greenbelt, as part of the long term project of fire-hazard abatement in the district.The Township faces a unique set of fire dangers, and challenges. Set in a dense forest Brooktrails residents are at a greater wildfire risk than most other communities. This means that the Brooktrails Fire Department must take extra measures, including substantial fire risk abatement in the greenbelt, to ensure that the district is safe.

Brooktrails Fire Department Chief Daryl Schoeppner and district staff have emphasized the importance of the recently enacted fire tax as key to mitigation and preparedness, but also important are efforts to reduce the “fuel load,” the amount of burnable stuff, in the greenbelt, undertaken by the department and by private individuals.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Stompers go yard – at San Quentin, that is
Sonoma News

For their first road game of the exhibition season, the Sonoma Stompers will jump from the minor leagues to the Big House – as our local squad travels up Highway 101 on Thursday, May 28 to face a team of inmate athletes at San Quentin State Prison.

The Stompers, looking to finalize their 2015 Opening Day roster, will face the team comprised of inmates from San Quentin’s two team, the A’s and the Giants, who play regularly at the prison’s “Field of Dreams.”

DEATH PENALTY

Governor seeks $3.2 million for more death row cells at San Quentin
Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal

San Quentin State Prison is on the verge of running out of space for condemned inmates, and Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Legislature for $3.2 million to open 97 more cells to accommodate more death row prisoners there.

The governor’s request, part of his proposed $113 ¬billion budget proposal, has been greeted with a notable lack of enthusiasm by both those who support and oppose the death penalty.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Will Parole Keep Her From Transitioning?

Samantha Allen, Daily Beast

A 51-year-old inmate was about to make history as the first to undergo a court ordered sex reassignment surgery. How parole may affect her fate—and that of transgender inmates everywhere.

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy has been in prison for 28 years. But she only needed to stay there a few more months to establish one of the more elusive precedents in LGBT history.

Norsworthy, 51, is transgender and began her transition from male to female in the 1990s while serving a sentence for second-degree murder in a California state prison. In April, a landmark ruling from a Northern California district court judge ordered the state to cover Norsworthy’s sex reassignment surgery (SRS), which was deemed “the only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria.”

REALIGNMENT

Auto theft spikes in Merced and statewide after AB 109, report says

Rob Parsons, Merced Sun-Star

A new study says vehicle thefts continue to rise California since a prison policy change in 2011 forced many local jails to release more inmates early.

The Public Policy Institute of California last week said sending low-level felons to county jails instead of state prisons created a 17 percent increase in automobile thefts in 2013. That’s similar to the spike reported in 2012.

The increase came on the heels of the 2011 Public Safety Realignment Act, commonly referred to as AB 109. The law shifted responsibility for less serious offenders from the state to the counties to help solve the state’s prison overpopulation problem.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Suspect arrested in Indio homicide
Tatiana Sanchez, The Desert Sun

Police have arrested James "Chip" Nathaniel in the homicide of Apolonio Carranza, Indio police said Friday.

Carranza was found shot in his vehicle at about 2:30 a.m. on April 19 in Indio. He died at the scene.

Program stresses rehab over jail
Monica Vaughan, Appeal Democrat

Yuba County criminal justice officials are a bit surprised by the initial success of a new defendant program, which may become a model for other counties.

The program allows some criminal offenders who would not usually be eligible for probation to attend a program, such as a residential drug or substance abuse treatment program. If they are successful, the judge will make an unusual case finding and the defendant will be sentenced to probation instead of time in jail or prison.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Schwarzenegger's decision to reduce killer's sentence to be under review
Dave Marquis, USA Today

SACRAMENTO—A couple whose son died in a knife attack in 2008 says former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced their son's killer's jail time illegally.

Esteban Nunez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison. On his last day in office, Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence to seven years, arguing at the time that Nunez did not deliver the fatal blow.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, Transgender California Inmate, Wins Parole Recommendation
Reuters, Alex Dobuzinskis

May 21 (Reuters) - A California board recommended parole on Thursday for a transgender inmate convicted of second-degree murder, the same day an appeals court put on hold a ruling requiring the state to pay for the prisoner's sex-reassignment surgery, officials said.

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, 51, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman and is held with male inmates at Mule Creek State Prison, is seeking to become the first inmate in state history to undergo the surgery.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Solano County remembers fallen peace officers

Jessica Rogness, Vallejo Times Herald

Officers from across Solano County gathered at noon Wednesday to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty.

The 26th annual Peace Officer’s Memorial Service, hosted by the Retired Peace Officer’s Association and the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, was held at the Solano County Peace Officers Memorial Garden in Fairfield.


Sentence handed down in Mexican Mafia case
Enforcer given 27 years in prison
Art Van Kraft, Moorpark Acorn

A Moorpark gang member known to law enforcement as a top enforcer for the Mexican Mafia was sentenced to 27 years in prison on May 14 in Ventura County Superior Court.

Edwin Mora, 31, pleaded guilty to numerous felony charges, including conspiracy to commit a crime, attempted extortion and attempted second-degree robbery on April 16.

OPINION
 

California’s realignment policy is right but it comes at a price
The San Francisco Chronicle

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California has been studying Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment policy, and there’s good news and bad news.

First, the good news: Realignment doesn’t appear to have had any impact on violent crime rates in California. That means state and local officials are making good decisions about who poses a serious threat to the public.
 

Here’s Why Jail Sentences Now Seem So Short
Mountain News

Readers who have followed stories in this newspaper about the sentencing of convicted criminals may have noted judges sentencing an offender to, say, three years in jail and then suspending all but six months of that term, with the remaining 30 months spent on probation.

An understandable reaction to such accounts could be anger, based on the idea a soft judge was denying the public the protection it deserves, or confusion, stemming from a lack of understanding of how the justice system works.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

CDCR NEWS

State Drops Appeal In Coleman Prison Case
Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio News

The long running Coleman case alleges that the mental health system operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is unconstitutional.

The state filed a motion to terminate the case in 2013, but was denied. The state appealed the decision to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But in a statement CDCR says significant progress has been made in delivering quality mental health care to inmates so all parties have agreed to dismiss the appeal and work toward a solution.

The state has been able to negotiate agreements with plaintiffs on several issues, such as use of force on mentally ill inmates. However the legal case will likely continue for several more years.

Appeals court delays transgender California inmate's surgery

Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A federal appeals court delayed sex reassignment surgery for a transgender prison inmate in California on Thursday, hours after a state panel recommended that she be paroled.

The pair of decisions makes it less likely that convicted killer Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, who has lived as a woman since the 1990s, will receive the surgery before she is released from prison.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Parole recommended for California inmate seeking sex reassignment surgery
Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state panel recommended parole for a Northern California transgender inmate on Thursday, a decision that could keep her from receiving the prison-funded sex reassignment surgery she says is necessary for her emotional health.

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy is no longer dangerous and should be freed, a pair of parole commissioners decided after a hearing. Norsworthy, 51, has served 28 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction from Orange County.

Parole could end inmate's effort to have sex change surgery
Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California inmate who is seeking sex reassignment surgery at taxpayers' expense faces a painful irony: If she wins freedom from a parole board, she would no longer be eligible for the prison-funded operation she says is crucial to her emotional health.

State officials say 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy has postponed her parole hearing several times with the hope of having the surgery. They are citing the delays as they appeal a judge's order that she undergo the procedure as soon as possible.

Parolee forcefully removed from inn
Monica Vaughan, Appeal-Democrat

Agents with protective shields rammed a door at a Yuba City motel on Wednesday afternoon after a parolee refused to exit a second floor room.

David Theodore Miller, 39, was taken into custody with the help of Yuba City police more than an hour after agents with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Fugitive Task Force attempted to make contact with him at about 11:45 a.m.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Sierra Conservation Center Riot
Tracey Petersen, MML News

Jamestown, CA – Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) officials report nearly 150 inmates were involved in a “large-scale” uprising where some prisoners used handmade weapons to attack each other.

The riot began around 8 p.m. Tuesday, on the A-Facility main exercise yard, according to prison officials, who confirm no staff members were injured in the outbreak. However, two prisoners were flown to area hospitals, due to injuries they sustained.  California Department of Corrections (CDCR) officials report one had surgery Wednesday morning and his condition is unknown at this time. The other had multiple injuries and is in stable condition. Additionally, five were treated at local hospitals and are back behind bars.

REALIGNMENT

Intensive Monterey County program helps probationers turn life around
Ana Ceballos, Monterey Herald

Salinas- Graduation season is in full swing, but high school and university students are not the only ones celebrating new beginnings — 20 Monterey County probationers are, too.

On Wednesday, 18 men and two women clad in formal attire reminisced about their troubled pasts and lauded Monterey County’s Day Reporting Center counselors, probation staff and parole officers for helping them leave that strife behind.

Study finds lingering spike in car theft after California prison change
The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO -- A new study says California continues to see a spike in auto thefts since a change in prison policy four years ago forced many local jails to release more inmates early.

The Public Policy Institute of California said Tuesday that sentencing lower-level felons to local lockups instead of state prisons led to a 17 percent increase in auto thefts in 2013. That's similar to the bump seen in 2012.

OPINION

California’s Death Penalty: All Cost, No Justice
Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California‎

Today the Nebraska Legislature voted to pass a bill to repeal the death penalty, becoming the first state with a Republican-controlled legislature to pass such a bill. But Nebraska isn’t alone. In fact, it is the latest of several states to affirm that the death penalty has failed to deliver on its promise of swift justice.

For years now, the death penalty has rapidly been losing steam throughout the country, both legally and in practice. To date, 18 states have legally abandoned the death penalty. And over the last ten years, eight other states have either carried out zero executions or sent zero new people to death row.

Daily Corrections Clips

REALIGNMENT

Policy center links auto thefts to California prison shift

Paige St. John, The Los Angeles Times

A California policy center concludes the state's policy to send low-level felons to county jails instead of state prisons had only "a very limited impact on crime," resulting in increased auto thefts but no impact in violent offenses.

The report, released late Tuesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, relies on crime data from the FBI for 2013.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

San Quentin Prison Report: How an introvert became a comedian
Adnan Khan, KALW

Jonathan Chiu is an inmate at San Quentin State Prison. He was born in Hong Kong in 1982 and moved to the United States with is family when he was eight years old. Soon after that, Chiu discovered his love of comedy. Writing jokes helped him cope with adapting to life in a new country. And comedy continues to help him adjust to life at San Quentin, where he regularly does stand up.

“I love watching movies, but coming to America watching American movies I really couldn't relate to them. You know, Star Wars is one of my favorite films, but what I  couldn't understand was in a galaxy far, far away, there's no Chinese people,” Chiu joked at a recent performance. “I mean, I thought R2D2 was made in Japan. And I thought the death star was outsourced.”

A Lifer’s Retirement Plan

Most of us get out old and broke. Not me.
Rahsaan Thomas, The Marshall Project‎

“Someone stole my freaking identity,” I said aloud to the empty cell. Someone free stole my identity – a prisoner’s. According to the piece of mail in my hands, Rahsaan Thomas owed the IRS $5,000, a tax refund that the IRS now wanted back.

I am Rahsaan Thomas1, but I’m not the person who filed the tax return or received the five grand. The last time I filed taxes was in 1996, when I was employed as an assistant graphic designer for a theater advertising agency. I lost that job in 1997, and my life spiraled out of control. I didn’t work another legitimate job afterward, and I ended up in prison.

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: Is man who killed Rancho Cordova girl in 2000 still in prison?
Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

Q: Is the person who murdered Courtney Sconce still in prison?

Curious, El Dorado Hills

A: Justin Michael Weinberger pleaded guilty to the November 2000 kidnapping, rape and murder of 12-year-old Courtney Sconce.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Vacaville Police conduct sweep of parolees, probationers
Jessica Rogness, The Reporter

A total of 20 arrests were made during a parole and probation sweep conducted by the Vacaville Police Department on Tuesday.

Approximately 36 locations were visited by officers in Vacaville and the unincorporated area surrounding the city.

OPINION
 

Jerry Brown can savor an accomplishment as crime falls, along with prison population
The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown has big plans for building high-speed rail, fixing the state’s plumbing and battling climate change.

Whether he will succeed with any of those undertakings in the final 3 1/2 years of his time in office remains to be seen. But Brown is entitled to a feeling of accomplishment for his criminal justice realignment, as are the county officials who are making it work.