Thursday, March 5, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Prison inmate sentenced for 2013 attack on correctional officer
Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

A California prison inmate has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for a 2013 attack on a correctional officer.

Lafonzo Ray Turner, 42, was convicted by a Sacramento County jury of battery on a custodial officer with an enhancement for great bodily injury, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. He was sentenced Wednesday by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Eugene Balonon.


Meet San Quentin’s Tough Trans Prison Guard

Justin Rohrlich, Daily Beast

Mandi Camille Hauwert spent five years as a prison guard at the notorious state prison. Then she did it for three years as a woman.

There are 24,000 correctional officers in the California prison system. Only one is transgender.

For almost eight years, Mandi Camille Hauwert, 35, has been a CO at San Quentin State Prison, which houses, among others, wife-killer Scott Peterson, serial killer Charles Ng, and “Dating Game Killer” Rodney Alcala. During her first five years on the job, the officers and inmates at the prison knew Mandi as Michael. Then in 2012, she began publicly transitioning to female.


Deadline approaching for new Siskiyou jail decision

The deadline looms for the county’s decision on whether or not it will pursue a new jail – but the board of supervisors has a number of lingering questions on the table.
David Smith, The Siskiyou Daily News

The deadline looms for the county’s decision on whether or not it will pursue a new jail – but the board of supervisors has a number of lingering questions on the table.

The county in 2013 was awarded a $24.1 million grant to build a new jail in an effort to address prisoner reclassification under California’s Assembly Bill 109.

Rio Dell council approves buying police cameras
The Times-Standard

Rio Dell Police Chief Graham Hill received authorization at last night’s City Council meeting to proceed with purchasing and equipping city police vehicles and officers with camera systems. The City Council voted unanimously to spend $15,397.46 on the cameras, support equipment and also a new restraining device for the department. The purchases were made possible through State funding set aside in the Governor’s budget to help cities across California adjust to the AB 109 prison realignment legislation that became law in 2011.


Suspect wanted in Southern California arrested
The Sentinel

A man who was wanted in Southern California was arrested in Dinuba in a stolen car Feb. 27, police said.

Leonel Carrera, 29, was booked on suspicion of car theft, inflicting corporal injuries to a spouse or co-inhabitant, false imprisonment and violating parole, all felonies.


Sheriff, DA Rain on Prop 47 Parade
Caution Supervisors over Supposed Benefits of New Sentencing Law
Lyz Hoffman, Santa Barbara Independent

Sheriff Bill Brown reiterated one message on Tuesday: “Don’t get too excited.”

Four months after California voters overwhelming backed Proposition 47 — the state law that has demoted many theft and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors — advocates of the initiative are cheering projections of reduced jail populations and diminished workloads for county probation departments. But in the interim, district attorneys and public defenders across the state — including in Santa Barbara County — are being stretched further than they were before.

Under Prop. 47, crimes such as shoplifting, grand theft, and drug use are now offenses punishable not by prison time but by either up to a year in jail or a combination of treatment and/or probation. The law is expected to reduce jail overcrowding brought about by realignment, which began in 2011 and shifted responsibility for some prison inmates from the state to individual counties.


OK, So Who Gets to Go Free?
Everyone wants to reduce America’s prison population. Now comes the hard part.
Leon Neyfakh, Slate Magazine

It has become conventional wisdom that America’s prisons are too full, and prominent elected officials on both sides of the aisle have expressed enthusiastic support for reducing the number of Americans behind bars. Of course, different politicians have different ideas about how to pursue this goal. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, have proposed legislation that would make prison sentences shorter, by loosening mandatory minimum laws and giving judges more leeway in doling out punishment. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D–Rhode Island, are pushing to allow more inmates to leave prison early by going through rehabilitation programs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


California steps up prison drug screening for visitors and staff

Paige St. John, The Los Angeles Times

California prison officials say they expect to have drug-sniffing dogs and ion scanners at 11 prisons by this spring, an effort to put a damper on a behind-bars drug trade that had one out of four inmates testing positive for illegal substances last year.

"Everybody will tell you drugs are readily available in all of the prisons in California," Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard told lawmakers at state Senate budget hearing Tuesday. He recounted the need to summon a medical emergency helicopter to a prison in San Joaquin County last year to rescue the 11-month-old infant of a prison visitor. Beard said the child was poisoned by opiates hidden within its diapers.


Inmates writing their own obits reveal regrets, failed dreams

Chris Megerian, The Los Angeles Times

In the wrong writer's hands, an obituary can be a dull collection of biographical facts, the type of article that journalism professor William Drummond calls the "lowest common denominator" of newspaper writing.

But on this day, he hoped for something more profound from his students, even if his classroom wasn't filled with the high-achievers he was accustomed to teaching at UC Berkeley. Drummond was across the bay in San Quentin State Prison, where he was introducing inmates to the basics of covering the news.

Central California Prison Inmate Dies Weeks After Cell Assault
The Associated Press

CORCORAN, Calif. (AP) – California corrections officials say an inmate at Corcoran state prison has died weeks after an assault from his cellmate.

The state Department of Corrections announced in a statement Tuesday that the 59-year-old man was serving a life sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. The crime, which occurred in Los Angeles County, was the man’s third strike, though he could eventually have been paroled.


Family fights killer’s release: Man imprisoned for 1990 murder in Foster City
Bill Silverfarb The Daily Journal

The family of Foster City murder victim Sandra Swiggard is pleading with Gov. Jerry Brown to keep her killer in prison after a parole board recommended his release last week.

Abel Leo Sapp, 47, was granted parole in 2012 for the 1990 murder but Brown reversed it after reviewing the case.

Group: DNA evidence exonerates convicted murderer
Shannon Williams, The sentinel

A California-based organization is claiming that newly discovered DNA evidence in the 1996 slaying of 11-year-old Traci Rene Conrad exonerates convicted murderer Kevin Galik of the crime, according to Kings County Superior Court documents.

The Northern California Innocence Project, along with its attorney, Kelley Fleming, filed a writ of habeas corpus on Galik’s behalf in 2014. In it, the organization alleges that recently tested DNA evidence excludes Galik, now 55, as a possible male contributor in the death of the Hanford girl.


Police shooting suspect was wanted in Merced County

Rob Parsons, Merced Sun-Star

A man accused of shooting a Merced police officer over the weekend had been wanted by law enforcement in Merced County since December, when he failed to appear in court on a suspected probation violation, the Sun-Star has confirmed.

The suspect, Jaime M. Caudillo of Los Banos, was arrested Saturday after authorities say he shot a veteran Merced police officer during a traffic stop on H Street. Caudillo was also shot during the gunfight with police. He was captured a short time later and taken to an area hospital for treatment before he was booked into the Merced County Jail, officers have said.

Activists shut down Alameda County supervisors meeting over realignment spending

Malaika Fraley, The Monterey County Herald

OAKLAND -- Activists calling for increased public safety monies for community-based programs serving the formerly incarcerated on Tuesday shut down an Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, where Supervisor Keith Carson in response announced a proposal that would double the amount spent on such programs in fiscal year 2015-2016.

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights deployed a few dozen activists to disrupt the meeting on behalf of the "Jobs Not Jails" campaign, demanding Alameda County spend half its public safety budget on programs that offer services like job training, health care, housing and education to the people re-entering society after jail or prison.


How to Cut the Prison Population by 50 Percent

No, freeing potheads and shoplifters is not enough.
Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project

A growing number of criminal justice reform organizations, among them the ACLU, Rebuild the Dream, and Just Leadership USA, are uniting behind one big goal: to reduce the prison population by 50 percent within the next 10 to 15 years.

With 2.3 million Americans incarcerated in prisons and jails, a 50 percent reduction would mean changing sentencing and parole rules to cut the net population by more than 1 million people, either by releasing current inmates or by not incarcerating future offenders.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Border Patrol Catches Previously Deported Gang Member/Sex Offender in US
Tami Nantz, BreitBart

Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border apprehended 39-year-old “Sureno” gang member Alejandro Sanchez after he illegally entered the U.S., only to discover that he was a previously deported violent felon who had served prison time as a sex offender. The arrest occurred in the early morning hours of March 1st at a border patrol checkpoint in Southern California.

Agents assigned to the El Centro Sector’s Indio Station, a station responsible for patrolling the northern portion of Imperial County that covers more than 10,000 square miles and borders both Arizona and Mexico, made the arrest at the Highway 86 checkpoint, according to press release obtained by Breitbart Texas.


Wounded Merced police officer released from hospital

Rob Parsons, Merced Sun Star

NOTE: The reporter has been informed that nobody is released early from prison under AB 109.

MERCED —A police officer shot over the weekend in a gunfight with a suspected gang member has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home with his family, the Merced police chief said Sunday in a news conference.

The officer, whose name was not released, was shot at least twice early Saturday after stopping a vehicle around 2:30 a.m. in the 2100 block of H Street. Chief Norman Andrade described the wounded officer as a veteran policeman in Merced who has a wife and children.

Disgraced ex-SDPD officer Hays released from jail

Melissa Mecija, abc News

SAN DIEGO - A former San Diego police officer who pleaded guilty to assaulting three women while on duty has been released from jail only five months into his term.

Christopher Hays, 30, was released from the San Diego Central Jail shortly before 7 a.m. Monday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.


California case reignites Washington death penalty debate
Alex Rozier, KING 5 News

TACOMA, Wash. – Thirty years after the murder of his mother, sister and two nephews, a California man is suing that state for not executing the killer, even though he was sentenced to death.

It has some people in Washington state wondering if they can pursue the same option.


Convicts who don't deserve parole hearings

Thomas D. Elias, Napa Valley Register

Consider the criminal history of Bobby Beausoleil, 67, the latest follower of Charles Manson to come up for an automatic parole hearing.

Among the lesser-known members of the murderous so-called Manson “Family,” Beausoleil was a Manson henchman who fled Los Angeles after the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and movie stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea. Caught near San Luis Obispo and jailed, he could not participate in the group’s notorious slayings of actress Sharon Tate and grocer Leno LaBianca a few days later.

Op-ed: Transitioning as a Guard at San Quentin State Prison
A transgender guard at one of California's most infamous prisons shares what it was like to transition there.
Mandi Camille Hauwert, Advocate

My first shift at work presenting as a woman — wearing makeup and the female uniform — was two and a half years ago. It was the scariest day of my life. Even writing this now, I'm in tears.

I'm Mandi Camille Hauwert, San Quentin's first openly transgender correctional officer. I started at San Quentin State Prison in California in December 2007. Back then, I went by Michael. I'd known since I was young that I wasn't like the other boys. Yet when I first arrived at the Q, as we call it, I had given up on transitioning from a man to a woman. I thought my six-foot frame, broad shoulders, and muscular build would prevent me from ever passing as a woman. Then I decided I didn't care.


What Really Happens During Overnight Prison Visits
Dana Goldstein, Yahoo Health

Although conjugal, or “extended,” visits play a huge role in prison lore, in reality, very few inmates have access to them. 20 years ago, 17 states offered these programs. Today, just four — California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington — do. No federal prison offers extended, private visitation. Last April, New Mexico became the latest state to cancel conjugal visits for prisoners after a local television station revealed that a convicted killer, Michael Guzman, had fathered four children with several different wives while in prison. Mississippi had made a similar decision in January 2014.

State justices void blanket ban on where sex offenders can live
Maura Dolan, The Los Angeles Times

The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that blanket statewide restrictions on where sex offenders may live violate the constitutional rights of parolees in San Diego County — and potentially those in other counties.

The residential limits, passed by voters in 2006 as Jessica's Law, bar registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children gather, regardless of whether the crimes involved children. Sex offenders in San Diego challenged the restrictions, saying that they made it impossible to find a place to live.

California court says state can't ban all sex offenders from living near schools and parks

Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News‎

California's voter-approved law to keep convicted sex offenders from living near schools and parks violates parolees' constitutional rights, the state's highest court ruled Monday, saying the blanket ban has done more to leave offenders homeless than to protect children.

The unanimous ruling came down in a San Diego case but opens the door for sex offenders in the Bay Area and across the state to choose where they want to live -- although the state can still declare certain parolees as threats and restrict where they can live on a case-by-case basis.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


These California Maximum-Security Prisoners Are Making an Album
They've got plenty of time, and Ani DiFranco as a co-producer.
Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

*Note, the name of the prison is California State Prison, Sacramento. NOT “New Folsom.”*

Inmates at California's New Folsom prison are slowly creating a sequel of sorts to Johnny Cash's hit record, and if an early preview of one song is any indication, their mix of folk, soul, blues, and hip-hop may be worth the wait.

The Prison Music Project, the brainchild of Canada-born singer-songwriter Zoe Boekbinder, is a collaboration between artists on the outside and at least eight men currently or recently doing time at New Folsom, the maximum-security facility adjacent to the lockup where Cash recorded Live at Folsom Prison back in January 1968.


Up in smoke: California wildfire torches pot crops
Mendocino County is known for growing marijuana, most of it illegal, and a lot of it is on fire.
Jane Wells Comply, The Beacon Review

A wildfire burning by dense forest in California's Mendocino County has destroyed additional than eleven,000 acres and wounded 8 firefighters. The cost has reportedly topped $twenty million.

That does not incorporate the marijuana.


Parole denied again for Davis child murderer
The Daily Democrat

A Davis man who killed his 14-month-old son in 1994 has once again been denied parole.

Manuel Bermudez, 45, who was found guilty of murder and child abuse in November 1994, won’t be eligible for another parole hearing until 2020.


Sweep nets 10 arrests
Big Bear Grizzly

A joint effort by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies and probation officers resulted in numerous arrests in Big Bear Valley Feb. 27.

The probation compliance operation led to 10 adults arrested on charges such as possession of a controlled substance for sales, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, arrest warrants, parole violations and miscellaneous AB109 probation violations.

How California Reduced Its Prison Population
Magnus Lofstrom, Brandon Martin. Public CEO

After years of struggling with a 2009 federal court order to reduce the population in the state’s overcrowded prisons, the inmate population has reached the target of 113,700 (based on current capacity), roughly a year ahead of schedule. A look at historic prison and jail data reveals that this milestone has been achieved to a significant extent by adding capacity and simply shifting inmates to institutions not subject to the court order. As a result, cost savings from the various efforts appear lacking so far. The state’s spending on corrections is now at a historic high.

Since reaching its peak in 2006 of about 163,000, the institutional prison population has dropped dramatically, by slightly more than 49,000. The court order mandated that inmate population be reduced to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or the number of inmates the facilities were intended to house.


Time to reform nation's criminal justice system
Joseph Perkins, OC Register

I have never forgotten a conversation I had with Washington Post legend Bob Woodward when I was an aspiring young journalist. He told me that one of the ways he grabbed the attention of readers was to hit them with what he called an “Oh, wow!” statistic.

Well, here are a few such statistics with respect to America’s criminal justice system:


Napa County jail inmates get tablet computers
Howard Yune, Napa Valley Register

A technology experiment began Friday in Napa County in one of the least likely settings – the county jail.

Corrections staff issued 80 tablet computers to be lent to the downtown jail’s inmates, launching a six-month, $25,000 pilot program to extend educational and behavioral training behind bars. The program’s creator sees it as a way for technology to make inmates’ stays more bearable and less likely to lead to more offenses afterward – a concern he says is increasing along with the length of sentences at county jails across the state.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Meet Warren Buffett’s Wannabes: The ‘Brown Buffett’ and ‘Oracle of San Quentin’

As billionaire hits 50 years at Berkshire Hathaway, fans and disciples claim his name; no female Warren Buffett
Anupreeta Das, The Wall Street Journal‎

A Sri Lankan-born venture capitalist wants to be the “brown Buffett . ” Rapper and entrepreneur Jay Z called himself the “black Warren Buffett . ” There are Buffetts of Tanzania, India and Spain—and a convicted murderer known as the “Oracle of San Quentin” because of his reputation for stock-picking prowess inside the California prison.

Since 2005, the phrase “the Warren Buffett of” has appeared more than 450 times in news reports. There is a Warren Buffett of gambling, wine, Irish property, fishing, barges and jewelry merchandising. And no geographic area seems too small for a Buffett , including at least one apiece in Kentucky and Memphis, Tenn. (A female Mr. Buffett is hard to find, though.)

Obituary: Lloyd Kelley helped bring Cash to perform at Folsom Prison
Edward Ortiz, The Sacramento Bee

Lloyd Kelley, the Folsom State Prison recreation supervisor who was instrumental in bringing Johnny Cash to perform at the prison, died Feb. 18 at age 94.

The cause of death was internal bleeding from a cracked rib Mr. Kelley suffered during a fall.


Public refuses to vacate RVSD meeting

Residents demand open hearing on San Quentin State Prison settlement
Soren Hemmila, Marin Scope

As the Ross Valley Sanitary District planned to discuss a settlement over sewage handling at San Quentin State Prison during a closed session last week, members of the public refused to leave the meeting.

Nearly a dozen residents refused to vacate the meeting room at the Central Marin Police Station on Wednesday, Feb. 18, after the board called for a closed session.


Local Jails Are an Important Part of the Penal System
Kent Scheidegger, The New York Times

Some local jails in this country are mismanaged, to be sure. Media reports of Rikers Island actually recruiting gang members with criminal records to be guards are deplorable. Those who have engaged in such mismanagement need to be fired, and competent administrators need to be hired in their place.

Predictably, though, America’s left-leaning advocacy organizations and think tanks are attempting to leverage this scandal to promote their pet panacea. Indeed, their cure for every ailment is to put more prisoners back on the street.


Property crime spike in Vacaville tied to state ballot measure
Ryan McCarthy, Daily Republic

VACAVILLE — A statewide measure changing some felony property and drug offenses to misdemeanors has helped increase property crimes in the city, Vacaville officials say.

Lt. Matt Lydon of the Vacaville Police Department, responding Tuesday to comments by Mayor Len Augustine and Councilman Mitch Mashburn, agreed that Proposition 47 has contributed to an influx of vehicle break-ins along Interstate 80.

California's 3-Strike Prison Reform Is Working
Rebecca Cohen, Mother Jones

California's three-strikes law used to mean that all third-time felons had to spend at least 25 years behind bars—pretty harsh, considering that the third strike could be the result of stealing a $2.50 pair of tube socks. Last year, voters decided to scale back the policy, and passed two initiatives to give judges more sentencing discretion and retroactively reduce the penalties for low-level drug and theft crimes. Law enforcement leaders warned that the reform would set free "thousands of dangerous inmates," and called it "a radical package of ill-conceived policies" that "will endanger Californians."

But almost five months after the second initiative passed, that warning sounds increasingly overblown. About 45 percent of inmates released from California prisons normally re-offend within 18 months. Of roughly 2,000 former life prisoners freed as a result of the three-strikes reform, only 4.7 percent have returned to prison, according to the New York Times. These ex-convicts had been out for an average of 18 months.