Thursday, September 3, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


 The Bakersfield Californian

California State Prison’s acting warden since 2014 has officially been appointed the prison’s warden, according to a news release from the officer of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Almost 2,000 California prison inmates in solitary confinement, some for decades, are to be released into general prison populations in a landmark settlement.

The legal ruling will end the controversial use of indefinite solitary confinement to control prison gangs. It follows several widespread hunger strikes protesting against the practice, which critics say can cause severe psychological effects, including a heightened suicide risk. Inmates in solitary spend up to 23 hours a day in their cells, most of which have no windows. They are separated from family visitors by glass and their rare phone calls are restricted.

State prison officials Wednesday circulated a photo of an inmate who escaped Tuesday from a Los Angeles re-entry facility where he was finishing out his sentence.

Hugo Andalon, 21, who was scheduled to be paroled later this month, had been participating in the Male Community Reentry Program in Los Angeles County since July 21.

Andalon scaled a fence to make his getaway, according to Krissi Khokhobashvili of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A California prison inmate who spent 26 years on death row for murder has died of natural causes, the fourth so far this year in a state that hasn't carried out an execution since 2006.

Ronald Harold Seaton, 69, died last week at Marin General Hospital near San Francisco, state prison authorities said on Wednesday.

He had been on death row at San Quentin State Prison since 1989.

An environmental consultant has been brought into the hunt for the source of Legionnaires' disease at San Quentin state prison. After six days of testing, officials still do not know what caused the outbreak that has left more than 100 inmates sick and the sprawling historic prison in near-lockdown.


SUSANVILLE, -- Officials say two inmates attacked and killed another prisoner with a manufactured weapon on a maximum-security yard of a Northern California prison.

State corrections department spokeswoman Dana Simas says prison officials are investigating the Monday attack against 33-year-old Matthew Jagger at High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

Simas says medical staff treated the Contra Costa County man before transferring him to an outside hospital where he died.

CALIFORNIA (KRON) —  A startling fact released Wednesday a California prison inmate dies or is killed, on the average of every 12 hours.  That is just one of the statistics available on a new state sponsored web site.

The data has shown us that in the last 10 years there have been 6,837 deaths in custody. 
That is an an average year of 684 people a year.

In most cases 61 percent of the reason is natural causes. Many prisoners die of sickness or old age.


A former state prison guard convicted of pointing a loaded handgun fitted with a laser sight at a motorist during a 2014 road rage incident in Paso Robles avoided jail time and instead received probation Wednesday.

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Roger Picquet sentenced Anthony James Behrens, 53, a former guard at Kern Valley State Prison, to three years of formal probation after Behrens was convicted by a jury Aug. 7 of brandishing a weapon at a person in a motor vehicle, a felony, and unlawful laser activity, a misdemeanor.


The California Supreme Court should overturn a lower court ruling that juvenile offenders have the same rights as adults to reduced sentences under Proposition 47, according to an appeal filed by the San Diego County district attorney.

Thousands of lawfully obtained DNA samples on file with the Department of Justice are hanging in the balance. - Appeal filed by San Diego Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis
Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis argued in a motion filed this week that if the July ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal is allowed to stand, it could force the destruction of thousands of DNA samples taken from juveniles and adults who were convicted of felonies that were reduced to misdemeanors under the measure adopted in November.
The result would be costly to taxpayers as thousands of cases would need to be evaluated to see whether the defendant's offense was one that qualifies for "reclassification" to a misdemeanor, according to the appeal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO -- California on Tuesday agreed to end its unlimited isolation of imprisoned gang leaders, restricting a practice that once kept hundreds of inmates in notorious segregation units for a decade or longer.

No other state keeps so many inmates segregated for so long, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. The New York City-based nonprofit center represents inmates in a class-action federal lawsuit settled Tuesday on behalf of nearly 3,000 inmates held in segregation statewide.

Paige St. John, The Los Angeles Times‎

California, which once led the nation in putting prisoners in solitary confinement, is poised to end the practice of decades-long isolation.

Settlement talks took place Monday morning between lawyers for the state and those representing inmates in a federal class-action lawsuit over the broad use of solitary confinement.


Richard Chang, The Sacramento Bee

NOTE: The reporter has been informed that Jonathan Velarde was an inmate at California Correctional Center, not High Desert State Prison.

An inmate at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville died Monday after being attacked by two other inmates, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The incident occurred after 1:30 p.m. in one of the prison’s maximum security yards, when two inmates used an inmate-manufactured weapon to attack the victim, CDCR said in a news release. Prison officials intervened, using chemical agents to subdue the attackers.

San Quentin State Prison is in its second week of battling an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. Since Friday, six inmates have tested positive for the bacterial pneumonia, with more than 70 other inmates displaying symptoms. Prison officials have turned off water taps and showers and even briefly shut off access to toilets, in an effort to prevent the bacteria, which is spread through water vapor, from spreading. We'll talk about possible causes of the outbreak and efforts to contain it.
Evan Sernoffsky, The San Francisco Chronicle

For nearly a week, Kathleen Reese-Brooks has been anxiously waiting to hear from her husband who is doing time at San Quentin State Prison where an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has occurred.

Prison officials said there were six confirmed cases of inmates infected with the severe bacterial pneumonia and 85 other prisoners who were showing symptoms since the first case was discovered Thursday. Reese-Brooks feared her husband, 53-year-old Ralph Brooks, might be infected.

Marissa Calhoun, CNN

San Bernardino, California (CNN)Kim Carter never had a chance to be a child.

At a very young age, she was exposed to heavy drugs, violence and criminal activity.

"People shooting heroin -- we'd be playing as kids, and there would be needles on the ground," Carter said. "It was rough."


Adam Herbets, Eyewitness News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The Kern County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against a former professional football player who is accused of killing his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison.

Now, Lawrence Phillips is charged with the first-degree murder of Damion Soward.

“It’s not as easy to get to the crime scene as it would be had it occurred on the street,” said Andi Bridges, who will be prosecuting the case. “It just takes time, and it takes time to have the autopsy results processed, as well.”


Scott Shafer, KQED

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George once quipped that “the leading cause of death on California’s death row is old age.” And he’s pretty much right.

It’s been nearly a decade since California executed an inmate. In that time more than 50 condemned inmates died, mostly of natural causes or suicide.

Last year those delays led U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney in Orange County to issue a stunning decision: He said administration of California’s death penalty is so dysfunctional that it no longer has any meaning and that the rare execution is determined not by the severity of the crime but by arbitrary factors like whose appeal process was exhausted first. That, he said, is unconstitutional. Carney’s decision vacated the death sentence for convicted murderer Ernest Dewayne Jones.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


San Quentin State Prison began restoring some services Monday after six prisoners tested positive last week for Legionnaires’ disease. At the same time, roughly 20 more inmates were placed under observation for the potentially deadly respiratory illness, officials said.

On top of the six prisoners with confirmed cases of the disease, five inmates were being treated at outside hospitals for pneumonia-like symptoms. Another 73 were under observation at the prison for respiratory illnesses, said Dana Simas, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


As a record-breaking wildfire season scorches the West, Inmate firefighters are among those on the frontlines of blazes from California to Washington.

An escape attempt this week drew attention to the little-known use of young people from juvenile detention facilities in firefighting crews in Washington state. As The Guardian reports, the 16 year old had been working on the Chelan Complex fire, when he escaped. 

He later tried to commit suicide when he was spotted by police, but survived.


LOS ANGELES — California has agreed to an overhaul of its use of solitary confinement in its prisons, including strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates, as part of a legal settlement filed in federal court on Tuesday.

The settlement is expected to sharply reduce the number of inmates held in isolation in the state, after several years in which tens of thousands of prisoners took part in hunger strikes to protest the use of solitary confinement, lawyers for the inmates say.

Ending years of litigation, hunger strikes and contentious debate, California has agreed to move thousands of prison inmates out of solitary confinement.

A legal settlement announced Tuesday between the state and a core group of inmates held in isolation for a decade or more at Pelican Bay State Prison calls for the end of the use of solitary confinement to control prison gangs.

Instead, the state agreed to create small, high-security units that keep its most dangerous inmates in a group setting where they are entitled to many of the same privileges as other prisoners: contact visits, phone calls and educational and rehabilitation programs.


After hearing arguments for about an hour Monday, a federal appeals court is poised to make a decision that could effectively end the death penalty in California or clear the way for the case to be tackled in state court.

Considering whether California’s death penalty is unconstitutional due to years of delays and alleged arbitrariness in executions, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena heard from attorneys representing death row inmate Ernest Jones and the warden of San Quentin State Prison. Jones was convicted of raping and stabbing his girlfriend’s mother to death in Los Angeles in 1992.


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors should know putting tens of millions of dollars into converting the unused Mira Loma Immigration Detention Center into a women’s jail stacks the deck even higher against women struggling to overcome substantial barriers in their lives.

Mira Loma in the High Desert is about as far north as you can get in Los Angeles County without crossing the county line. Most of the women who would be incarcerated in the new facility have roots in communities much farther south. If their families do not own a car, a trip to Mira Loma from, say, Lynwood or East Los Angeles, is a four-hour trek by bus and train. That’s four hours each way — the entire day — for a possible 20- or 30-minute visit.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO >> Officials at California’s oldest state prison scrambled to provide safe drinking water to thousands of inmates after waterborne Legionnaires’ disease hospitalized one inmate and was suspected of sickening more than two dozen others.

Water was quickly shut off at San Quentin State Prison Thursday after testing confirmed the potentially fatal illness.

Brendan O'Brien, Reuters

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Five more California inmates have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease at San Quentin State Prison, as officials work to determine the source of the outbreak and minimize its spread, the state corrections department said on Sunday.

Five of the inmates are being treated at outside hospitals after they were diagnosed with the disease through tests conducted over the last several days, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.


Abigail Wise, Outside Magazine

With record-breaking acres burned in states out west and a heat wave that hit California on Wednesday, which is likely to increase fire risk, according to the Los Angeles Times, firefighters are struggling to contain wildfires. Drought, the largest driver of wildfires, is responsible for the prime fire conditions that have consumed more than 7.1 million acres of the U.S. so far this year. Only 12 percent of the 472-square-mile Okanogan Complex wildfires in Washington are contained, according to the AP, and with wildfires blazing in many other western states, U.S. firefighters are turning to outside help:

Anne Cusack, MSN

Lawrence Phillips, the former star running back, will be prosecuted for the death of his cellmate, a legal secretary with the Kern County (Calif.) District Attorney's office told USA TODAY Sports Friday.

Criminal charges against Phillips in the death of Damion Soward — found dead in April inside the cell he shared with Phillips in Kern Valley State Prison, will be filed with the court next week, said Pam Marshall — legal secretary with the district attorney's office. Marshall said she will be filing the criminal complaint and related paperwork.

Malaika Fraley, San Jose Mercury News

HAYWARD -- A 22-year-old Newark woman is the last defendant to be sentenced in connection with the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Justice Afoa in 2010, a killing that led to the victim's friend on the Newark Memorial High School football team's murder two years later.

Judge Morris Jacobson sentenced Daniela Guzman on Friday to 15 years to life in state prison after she told a courtroom full of Afoa's family members that she was remorseful for her role in Afoa's death, her attorney Ernie Castillo said.

Theo Douglas, The Bakersfield Californian

A Wasco State Prison inmate who perished Wednesday morning was found to have died in a "natural" manner, the Kern County Coroner's office said Friday in a news release.

Todd E. Sortomme was taken to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday.

Attention is now on 1983 murder of a 20-year-old Pacific Grove woman found behind a Monterey shopping center.
Susan C. Schena, Patch

The arrests of two men in separate cold case homicides in Seaside were announced this week as a result of a partnership among Monterey Peninsula law enforcement agencies, a police commander said.

On June 26, Martin Lopez, 22, was arrested in connection with the murder of Erick Curiel, 21, Monterey police Cmdr. Michael Bruno, who is part of the Peninsula Cold Case Project, announced Wednesday.

Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

Q: In October 1985, a man named Larry Lapoint entered a Coker-Ewing real estate office armed. He shot the place, killing one person. What happened to that man? How many years did he get?


Gail Marshall, The Fresno Bee

The questioning began in the afternoon with parents like Joan Brown.

“Jeffrey, Jennifer? Where are you? Come on, you guys. I know you’re hiding. Don’t play games with me now.”
Something was wrong at the Browns’ Chowchilla home. What was it?

Then she noticed. The peanut butter wasn’t out. There were no chairs in front of the television. She looked at the clock. It was 5 p.m. Where could they be?


SAN DIEGO — A man who was 17 when he killed a San Diego police officer during a 1978 traffic stop was granted parole Friday, prompting District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to call on the governor to reverse the state Board of Parole’s decision.

Jesus Cecena, 54, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole in the death of Officer Archie Buggs.


After a legislator’s scathing letter, the warden and others say they’re doing their best but could use more state dollars.
The Press-Enterprise

It’s just after noon inside the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco. Natural light streams in from windows on both sides of a dorm in Facility A, the oldest part of the prison.

A man with a tattooed chest and neck is tidying his bed. Another shirtless inmate exits the bathroom with a towel draped across his shoulders, wiping vestiges of shaving cream off his bald head.


Howard Mintz hmintz, Mercury News

California is about to find out if taking three decades or more to execute death row inmates will turn out to be the fatal flaw in the state's long-faltering death penalty system.

In a case that may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court on Monday will review a Los Angeles federal judge's startling ruling last year declaring California's "dysfunctional" death penalty law unconstitutional because of systemic delays in a state with more than a quarter of the nation's condemned inmates.


Marisa Lagos, KQED

Last November, voters in California overwhelmingly approved Proposition 47, which lets people with some nonviolent felonies petition a court to reduce their crimes to misdemeanors. And that has opened up new opportunities for many former offenders.

Take 21-year-old Sofala Mayfield, for instance. Mayfield's life began to fall apart in his teens, after his grandmother suffered a stroke and his mother fell back into drug addiction.

Caty Enders, The Guardian

As record-setting Washington wildfires burned last week, a 16-year-old inmate who was helping to fight the Chelan Complex fire escaped from a work camp, after punching a security guard.

The next day, 22 August, police found the inmate on a nearby road and attempted to apprehend him. He pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and, after a brief interaction, fired one shot to his head.

Matthias Gafni, Contra Costa Times

HERCULES -- When Oscar Michel Glass took up his quiet life here, tutoring kids in French and math, he left a life -- and a name -- behind.

In 2004, Glass was Kurt William Kroboth, a Virginia man who donned a vampire mask on Halloween night, sneaked into his estranged wife's house with a bottle of chloroform and tried to knock her out to stage a bathtub suicide, prosecutors said. She escaped, and Kroboth ultimately pleaded guilty to attempted murder, serving seven years of a 30-year sentence in prison before being released on probation.