Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

FOLSOM, CALIF. — Monica Oliva is getting out of prison  this month after 13 years and she's got plans —plans that include a job, a life and a lot of time on the computer.

Oliva, 37, graduated last week with a coveted certificate in three computer-aided design programs, after a grueling eight-hour-a-day, six-month course she and 17 other women completed while incarcerated at Folsom State Prison Women's Facility.

"You're talking to the happiest person in the world," Oliva said as she used a computer in the training center to show off a house she designed using AutoCAD.

Brian Melley, The Associated Press

A man imprisoned 16 years for rape and sex assault convictions was exonerated Monday and ordered freed after DNA evidence linked the crimes to a serial rapist on the FBI's most wanted list.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan granted a petition supported by prosecutors to release Luis Vargas, who was serving a sentence of 55 years to life in prison for three sexual assaults.

Vargas broke down, placing his hand to his forehead and covering his eyes as the judge ordered the case dismissed during the brief hearing packed with family and law school students who had worked to free him.

Jodie Tillman, The OC Register

Eighteen years ago, John Abel looked the part of unrepentant killer. He grinned and twiddled his thumbs as a judge sentenced him to death for the 1991 murder of a merchant’s son outside of a Tustin bank.

But Abel has maintained his innocence. Now he is an exhibit in Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders’ 752-page court filing in August alleging decades of misconduct by Orange County prosecutors and law enforcement.


Katherine Proctor, Courthouse News

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (CN) - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is withholding public records about its lethal injection practices and protocols, the American Civil Liberties Union claims in court.

The ACLU's Northern California chapter sued the department of prisons in Marin County Court, claiming it produced only a small number of documents, though "it is clear that a substantial number of responsive and non-privileged documents exist and have not been produced." That violates the California Public Records Act, the ACLU says in its Nov. 18 lawsuit.

Daily Corrections Clips


By The Associated Press, Daily Republic

SACRAMENTO — As states deal with a nationwide shortage of execution drugs, California proposed Friday to allow corrections officials to choose one of four types of powerful barbiturates to execute prisoners on death row, depending on which one is available.
The single drug would replace the series of three drugs that were last used when Clarence Ray Allen was executed in 2006, strapped to a gurney in the old gas chamber of San Quentin State Prison.


Man convicted of 3 rapes expected to be exonerated

By The Associated Press, FoxNews
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge was expected Monday to exonerate a man convicted of three rapes after DNA evidence linked the crimes to a serial rapist wanted for assaults dating back two decades.
Luis Vargas has been in prison for 16 years for crimes he didn't commit, according to the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law, which took up his case in 2012.

State may vote again next November on death penalty ban

By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

Californians may be asked again to repeal the state’s delay-plagued death-penalty law in November, four years after narrowly retaining the law.
State election officials on Friday cleared a new initiative for circulation that would ban executions in California and make life imprisonment without parole the mandatory sentence for all capital murderers, including the nearly 750 condemned inmates on the nation’s largest Death Row.


California's Prop. 47 revolution: How to spend the savings 

By The Times Editorial BoardContact Reporter, Los Angeles Times

What is the value to the county of such a steep reduction in workload? Surely such a thing is quantifiable. If an increase in workload carries a cost, a decrease certainly brings savings. So how much savings? Where did it all go?

And what about the fact that L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, an outspoken opponent of Proposition 47, acknowledges that because of the ballot measure, he now has far fewer people moving through his jails? A year ago, the jails were so overcrowded that the sheriff could keep inmates who were convicted of misdemeanors for only 40% of their sentences. That number had at one point dropped to 20%. Today, the jail is still full, but inmates are being kept for 70% to 90% of their sentences because there are fewer new convicts coming in each day.
By Kim Steele, Palo Verde Valley Times

BLYTHE - The two Ironwood State Prison employees who stopped to rescue a woman trapped in a burning vehicle last October were just doing what anyone else would have done.

"I saw the plume of dust and I had to stop," said Lt. Thelma Wooldridge, who was on her way home to Ehrenberg, Ariz., when she came across the single-vehicle crash on Interstate 10.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Pine Grove graduation ceremony’s theme is “Life is what you make it”

PINE GROVE – Fourteen youths at the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp (YCC) in Pine Grove received a high school diploma or General Educational Degree (GED) today in a major step toward their rehabilitation.

Nine students – among 60 youth trained to fight fires – received high school diplomas and five earned a GED or a high school equivalency while battling several blazes throughout this busy fire season including the Valley Fire in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties that burned 76,000 acres and took a month to get under control.

Folsom Women's Facility offers first in the nation prison program
Mike Luery, KCRA 3 News

FOLSOM, Calif. (KCRA) —It's a program you'll find only behind prison walls in Folsom -- and it's helping female inmates get jobs in architecture and engineering.

Eighteen female offenders picked up certificates on Thursday after graduating from the California Prison Industry Authority's Autodesk program that trains them in computer aided design while they are incarcerated in Folsom Prison.

Monica Oliva received big cheers on Thursday after graduating with certificates in AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit.


Don Thompson, The  Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The last of three men convicted of hijacking a school bus full of California children nearly four decades ago was denied parole for the 16th time on Thursday.

A panel decided that Frederick Woods will stay in prison even though the two men convicted with him, brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld, already have been released.

Woods, 64, can apply for parole again in three years.


Kyle Buis, CBS

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Supporters of a measure to repeal California’s death penalty can begin gathering signatures, the state attorney general’s office announced on Thursday.

The Justice That Works Act of 2016 aims to repeal the death penalty and would apply retroactively to people already sentenced to death.


Sal Rodriguez, OC Register

One year after the passage of Proposition 47, a couple of things are clear. The initiative, which reclassified many low-level drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, has given the state an important opportunity to reevaluate its dysfunctional criminal justice system. Regrettably, it is also apparent that law enforcement and tough-on-crime politicians seemingly still are standing in the way of reform.

The American Civil Liberties Union this month put out a report, “Changing Gears: California’s Shift to Smart Justice,” highlighting the successes and challenges of Prop. 47. As anticipated, the initiative reduced state prison and local jail populations, curbed early releases and gave thousands a second chance at rebuilding their lives. Just as significant, the reform is set to save hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the state, freeing up resources that can be used on mental health and drug treatment, support for crime victims and crime prevention.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


Ryoko Hanano was killed and her husband was paralyzed.

SANTA ANA — The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) said Wednesday it is opposing the parole of an inmate convicted of the special circumstances shooting murder of a woman and permanently injuring the victim’s husband during a robbery.

Nanette Marie Scheid, 54, is currently being held at the California Institute for Women in Corona. She was convicted on Jan. 28, 1991 of one felony count of first-degree murder, two felony counts of first-degree robbery, and one felony count of attempted robbery, and sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.


R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly

Caught standing nude except for socks, holding a stainless steel frying pan and hovering inches away from a sleeping Anaheim women in the middle of the night, Erik John Freund insists law enforcement officials misunderstand his criminal intentions.

Freund, a cross dresser with a cocaine habit, says he'd entered the women's bedroom merely to try on and steal her fashionable clothes, but cops, prosecutors and a 2009 jury concluded the shocked victim awoke and interrupted an attempted rape.

The Sacramento Bee

Q: What happened in the Rayshun Cunningham case? I know he supposedly got life. It happened years ago in Sacramento.

Denise, Sacramento

A: A jury found Rayshun Cunningham guilty of second-degree murder in the July 2003 shooting death of 27-year-old Armando Richard Toro.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Monica Vaughan, Appeal Democrat

Four years ago, the state implemented public safety realignment, a policy that, in part, transferred the responsibility of housing and supervising some criminal offenders from the state to counties.

Each county was directed to assemble a Community Corrections Partnership to create plans to implement the policy, including decisions about how to spend millions in state funds directed to counties for implementation.


Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune

If someone tells you they have "been away," the first thing that probably comes to mind is they were on vacation. Yet in poor African-American and Latino communities where incarceration rates are sky high, the term is often a euphemism for jail or prison.

"In East Oakland, we know many people of color who are 'away' or on parole or probation at any given time," says Oakland poet Linda Norton.