Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Katherine Proctor, Courthouse News

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The Ninth Circuit dismissed as moot an appeal of a federal judge's order requiring California prison officials to provide sex reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate, since she was recently released.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar's landmark ruling that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation violated Michelle-Lael Norsworthy's constitutional rights by denying her surgery while she was in prison would have led to the first sex reassignment surgery on a prison inmate in California history.

The case occurred alongside the circuit's recent revival of a similar action brought by California inmate Mia Rosati and the state's agreement to pay for the sex reassignment surgery of transgender inmate Shiloh Quine.


Merced Sun-Star

The Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla celebrated its 25th anniversary on Thursday with a special ‘thank you’ to staff who helped open the prison.

Forty-four staff members were recognized for their commitment to their job. Warden Deborah Johnson also thanked the employees’ families for their patience over the years.


Promise Yee, kpbs

A group of students at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility is taking arts classes designed to create an environment where inmates can connect and share.
On a recent Tuesday, about 20 inmates in light blue uniforms moved folding chairs and tables into place for the night's art lesson in the Donovan state prison gym.
The class was on figurative drawing. Inmates start by practicing to draw faces, then sit face to face to draw portraits of each other.

Inmate James Fox has been coming to Project PAINT classes since sessions began two and half years ago.


ELK CREEK, Calif. - Authorities are searching for an inmate who walked away from a conservation camp in Glenn County.

Jorge Macedo, 32, reportedly walked away from the Valley View Conservation Camp sometime between 11:30 p.m. Sunday night and 12:30 a.m. Monday morning.


Joe Nelson, The Sun

In an effort to reduce San Bernardino County’s misdemeanor caseload by upward of 25 percent, the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices are proposing a diversion program for nonviolent misdemeanor offenders.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the request during its meeting today.

The proposal calls for the board approving a three-year contract with San Clemente-based CorrectiveSolutions Holdings, a for-profit company, to run the four-month classroom-style behavior modification program. The cost would be $400, plus any additional fees for drug testing, alcohol monitoring or for additional classes. The fee for indigent offenders would be based on a sliding scale.


The Fresno Bee

Given politicians’ predilection to appear tough on crime, a bipartisan compromise to possibly reduce draconian sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is a big deal.

The long-awaited agreement, announced Thursday by eight key U.S. senators, would put into legislation some of the criminal justice reforms that President Barack Obama seeks to leave as a legacy. The bill deserves to move forward in Congress.

Among other changes, the measure would shorten mandatory federal sentences for repeat drug criminals, give federal judges more discretion to make sure that low-level dealers don’t get the same punishment as drug kingpins, and bring 6,000 inmates under a 2010 law that reduced the racially skewed disparity between sentences for crack and powder cocaine.

Despite a new settlement that bans indefinite solitary confinement in California, prisons are finding new secondary excuses to lengthen time in the SHU.
Sarah Shourd, Daily Beast

A change in policy in California just last month could result in an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 prisoners being released from solitary confinement into the general prison population.

Seventy-eight of these prisoners have been isolated for more than 20 years. Like being confined to a small fish bowl in the dark corner of an attic—these prisoners will suddenly be thrust into a much larger aquarium, teeming with life.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Parole Eased for 18 to 23-Year-Olds Convicted of Serious Crimes
Human Rights Watch

(Sacramento) – A landmark California law giving thousands of young adult offenders the chance to earn parole recognizes their potential to mature and rebuild their lives, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 3, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 261, which will make over 12,000 prisoners in California eligible for relief.

“California’s new law acknowledges that young adults who have done wrong are still developing in ways that makes a real turnaround possible,” said Elizabeth Calvin, senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “This law gives imprisoned young offenders hope and the motivation to work hard toward parole.”
In 2014, California established a youth offender parole process for people who were under 18 at the time of a crime but who were tried as an adult and sentenced to an adult prison term. That law provides the possibility of earlier parole for several thousand young offenders currently in California prisons, and approximately 250 have been found suitable for parole thus far. The new law extends eligibility under the 2014 statute from age 18 at the time of the crime to 22.


Mary Pilon, VICE

On a recent Wednesday morning at California's San Quentin State Prison, 23 inmates sat before refurbished computers disconnected from the internet building websites and mobile apps. They worked not far from the more than 700 men being held on death row, just west of the old brick "dungeon" and gas chamber, and in the same facility where Johnny Cash played in 1969. Jonathan Gripshover, a bearded instructor who stood out against the sea of denim, circulated through the halogen-lit room. Organizers claim that the class he was leading, which is called Code.7370 and is a project of the nonprofit the Last Mile, is the first-ever in-prison coding program in the country. In January, the inmates will become part of Silicon Valley's latest experimental employment arrangement when the Last Mile launches a program that will have them doing actual entry-level front-end coding work for companies on the outside. Through the arrangement, prisoners will earn $15 to 20 an hour, wages organizers say are comparable with those given to interns performing similar work. The program promises to be a modern-day foray beyond traditional prison jobs and a rare bridge between the technorati of the Bay Area and those living behind bars just next door.

Chelcey Adami, The Californian

Salinas Valley State Prison officials are investigating the death of inmate Monday as a homicide.

On Monday morning, custody staff conducting security checks found inmate Pedro M. Aguilar unresponsive in his cell, and he was pronounced dead at 9:05 a.m., according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Jeff McDonald, The San Diego Union-Tribune

There’s no easy in hard time.

Prison is supposed to be unpleasant and uncomfortable, a deterrent for people who veer from the straight and narrow. But when temperatures rise across San Diego County, as they have at record highs this year, the heat climbs even higher inside the concrete cells at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.

“It’s pretty bad,” said Nathaniel Regalado, who has about 20 months remaining on a 13-year sentence for armed robbery. “Every morning I have to wash my sheets. I’m just covered in sweat, every part of my body.”


Erin Tracy, The Modesto Bee

The idea of a sex offender living on your street or near your child’s school is concerning. It’s no surprise one west Modesto family was outraged when they learned a man classified as a “sexually violent predator” moved a stone’s throw away from both.

I heard from the family after they called Modesto police and were told the man, despite a criminal history that includes sex crimes against children, has the right to live near Franklin Elementary School off Maze Boulevard.


The Desert Independent

BLYTHE, Calif – On September 11, Superior Court Judge Joan Lewis published her minute order finding the award of an $88 million State construction contract to contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Inc., was improper and the contract will be set aside. Judge Lewis concluded the contract should have been awarded to San Diego County based West Coast Air Conditioning Co., Inc. Hensel Phelps forces—currently onsite and performing work—will be required to cease work.

The project involves rehabilitation of the mechanical, heating and ventilation system at the 22-year-old Ironwood State Prison, located in Riverside County near Blythe, California.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO – Dirty cooling towers were to blame for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that has sickened dozens of inmates and at least four employees at San Quentin State Prison since late August, according to a report Thursday.

Tests showed two of the towers on the roof of the prison’s Central Health Services Building had high concentrations of the bacterium that causes the disease, according to the federal receiver who controls inmate medical care. The report says people walking near the towers evidently inhaled contaminated mist, because no drinking water was affected.

Highland News

Last spring, Community-Based Art at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) received funding from several sources in an effort to extend art into the community: a grant for more than $45,000 from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; $9,864 in grant funding from CSUSB’s Office of Student Research, including the Summer Research Grant and a small travel grant; and an award of $1,500 from the William James Foundation, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco.

Community-Based Art (CBA) is an approach to making, teaching and learning art that directly engages the community. CSUSB art students facilitate art classes in local community sites that otherwise have little or no access to art. As a result, CBA Prison Arts Collective emerged to bring art classes and workshops to those that are incarcerated in the California state prison system.


New program will funnel them into San Quentin for basic code
Kim Steele, Palo Verde Valley Times

LYTHE - A select group of inmates at Ironwood State Prison soon will become part of a new program based at San Quentin State Prison that teaches them how to write basic code.

The program, called The Last Mile, will begin in January at the local prison. ISP inmates who graduate from a preparatory entrepreneurship class will be able to transfer to San Quentin and enroll in Code 7370.

The Associated Press

SOLEDAD, Calif. (AP) — Officials say the death of a child molester at a prison on California's Central Coast is a homicide.

Corrections officials said Thursday that 45-year-old Pedro Aguilar was found dead in his Salinas Valley State Prison cell on Monday.

Hillary Jackson, My News LA

A 24-year-old inmate who went missing from a conservation camp near Sylmar is back in custody after nearly a week on the run.

Jesse Jordan Diaz , who walked away from the minimum-security Holton Conservation Camp sometime before 11:25 p.m. Sept. 22, was taken into custody late Tuesday night in Indio, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


FAIRBANKS- Trial is set to move forward in the case of the Fairbanks Four.

Beginning on Monday Kevin Pease, Eugene Vent, George Frese, and Marvin Roberts will be back in court to once again claim they are innocent of the 1997 murder of Fairbanks teen John Hartman.

Revealed in court this afternoon- the first person to take the stand will be William Holmes.


The New York Times

RICHMOND, Va. — A serial killer who sought to block his execution over safety concerns about one of the lethal injection drugs was put to death Thursday night.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected a last-minute appeal on behalf of the killer, Alfredo Prieto, 49, whose lawyers wanted his execution delayed as they sought more information about the drugs. The drugs were obtained from the Texas prison system.

Mr. Prieto was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. on Thursday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarrat.


Eric Woomer, Visalia Times Delta

As the bright orange dawn woke many in Tulare County Thursday, a select group of Norteno street gang members were awoken in a different light.

A Department of Justice-led, multi-agency, multi-county effort to dismantle Nortenos in Tulare County culminated Thursday morning with the arrest of 52 men and women from towns across the county. The District Attorney's Office is calling the sweep the largest gang case ever prosecuted in this county.

Dan Noyes, abc News

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The ABC7 News I-Team has new information about a 32-year-old inmate who died at the Santa Clara County Main Jail on Monday. Sources confirm deputies used a controversial riot gun on the man at close range.

The coroner tells the I-Team an early examination of the body rules out an acute injury; there was no internal bleeding or broken bones. It will take weeks to conclude cause of death. But, we know much more about what happened to the inmate than the sheriff has released so far.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


CDCR Today

SYLMAR – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials announced today that inmate Jesse Jordan Diaz, 24, was taken into custody late last night, approximately seven days after he was discovered missing from the minimum-security Holton Conservation Camp located near the community of Sylmar, in Los Angeles County.

Diaz was taken into custody by CDCR’s Special Service Unit, which had tracked him to the town of Indio. Agents located him with the help of a friend who told agents of a house where Diaz was staying.  He was taken into custody without incident. 



An estimated 40% of people in jails and prisons are infected with Hepatitis C. Because the virus can remain dormant for decades, it's often called the silent killer. From inside San Quentin Prison, reporter Louis A. Scott spoke to fellow prisoners living with Hepatitis C.


Napa Valley Register

A man who shot to death his former wife in 1994 in Napa will remain in prison for another three years after a parole board Tuesday denied his request to set him free.

The parole board ruled that Jerre Allen, now 73, poses an unreasonable risk to the community if he is released, Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein said Wednesday.


Jonathan Bandler, lohud

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Virginia execution of an El Salvador native convicted of killing Yorktown High School graduate Rachael Raver and her boyfriend in 1988.

Alfredo Rolando Prieto, a serial killer convicted for three murders in Virginia and California and linked to six others, was scheduled for lethal injection at 9 p.m. Thursday.

But U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia put that on hold and scheduled a hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday to allow Virginia officials to provide details of the drugs that would be used to kill Prieto.



Four years ago, under a federal court order, California began to radically transform the way it sentences criminals by allowing non-violent offenders to serve their sentences in county jails rather than state prisons.

At the time, critics worried that the plan, known as realignment, could increase crime and overwhelm counties. But a recent report from the Public Policy Institute of California finds that realignment has significantly reduced the prison population with few negative consequences.


California Healthline

Correctional facility inmates in California and other states sometimes face copayments from a few dollars to as high as $100 when receiving care, according to report by New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, Kaiser Health News reports.

According to the report, at least 35 states -- including California --  permit copays and other fees for health services at state prisons or county jails.

Lauren Lee White, VICE  

Marie Levin cannot wait to give her older brother a hug and a high-five for the first time in more than 31 years. Roughly three decades ago, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) deemed Ronnie Dewberry (who goes by the name Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa) to be a member of the Black Guerrilla Family gang and put him in solitary confinement in one of the state's security housing units, or SHUs. Since then, Levin has visited her brother in the Corcoran, Tehachapi, and Pelican Bay prisons, always speaking to him through a thick glass window.

"He's been behind the window for a long time," she says.

At the end of every visit, Levin watches her brother put in shackles to be led back to his cell, where he will spend at least 22 and a half hours alone each day. "I remember the first time I saw him behind the glass, when I saw him with chains around his waist, his legs, and his ankles," Levin recalls. "It was hard for me to watch."

Lauren Keene, The Davis Enterprise

WOODLAND — The five suspects in custody for a Davis nightclub homicide are facing an amended set of criminal charges that emphasize what authorities say is the gang-related nature of the crime.

On Tuesday, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office filed a two-page complaint charging Carlos Biviescas, Martyn Alex Contreras,  Anthony Daniel Rivera, Zackary Thomas Sandeno and Victor Manuel Vergara with one count of murder that carries an enhancement for criminal street gang activity, as well as a separate gang charge alleging the defendants “did willfully and unlawfully promote, further, and assist in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.”


Will fear of crime derail state's changing criminal-justice policies?
Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union Tribune

SACRAMENTO — Ask any reformer what it’s like to enact serious change in some massive state bureaucracy, or even in some smaller local bureaucracy, and you’re likely to get an earful. Government agencies aren’t known for their nimbleness — or their willingness to embrace new ideas. Big reforms have to be imposed forcefully from the outside.

That’s why, year after year, California’s educational system lumbers along as usual. And why no matter how many audits or oversight committees are empowered, the California Department of Transportation does its thing as inefficiently as ever. Yet one state governmental system has changed dramatically