Court weighs contempt motion in Calif. prison case
By Don Thompson, Associated Press -- A federal appeals court on Thursday began considering whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can be held in contempt for refusing to release money to improve inmate health care, testing the limits of federal intrusion into states' control of their prisons.
San Mateo County officials worried about potential inmate release
By Shaun Bishop, San Jose Mercury News -- A tentative federal court ruling this week that could result in the release of thousands of state prison inmates is worrying San Mateo County officials who fear that local communities could be hit by an influx of criminals. "The worst way to handle overcrowding, again when you're talking about adult prison inmates, is to open the doors and release," said Calvin Remington, the county's interim chief probation officer. "I'm sure the judge is getting impatient because he's not seeing any changes occur."
Cutback Ordered for Sex Offenders
By Jennifer Wadsworth, Tracy Press -- The state this week cut back housing aid for paroled sex offenders, something critics worry could leave some of Tracy’s registered out on the streets unless they can afford rent on their own. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced on Monday that it will ratchet back vouchers for lengthy motel stays and apartment rentals for the 5,000 paroled sex offenders throughout California who received the help since February last year. Corrections undersecretary Scott Kernan said the move wasn’t necessarily a money-saving measure but a way to free up some costs that could go toward helping paroled sex offenders find work, clothe themselves and get counseling.
Judge's letter voices concerns about closing youth facility
By Eliav Appelbaum, Camarillo Acorn -- An Alameda County Superior Court judge has publicly expressed his concern over the potential razing of the Ventura County Youth Correctional Facility for the construction of a prison medical facility that would house 1,500 male inmates. Judge Jon Tigar sent a letter Jan. 20 to U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who presides over the Plata v. Schwarzenegger case involving medical healthcare for California inmates. Tigar supervises the Farrell v. Cate case, which concerns the juvenile facilities maintained by the Division of Juvenile Justice.
State budget forcing county to grapple with public safety issues
By Chris Metinko, Oakland Tribune -- Claiming that state lawmakers in Sacramento were further trying to "dismantle" local government, Alameda County officials bashed the state's budget-driven plans to return more adult and juvenile offenders to their home communities, as well as the state's decision to withhold millions in anticipated payments to counties starting this week. County Executive Susan Muranishi said Alameda County will lose approximately $20 million in state funds this month as the state starts to withhold payments for state programs administered by counties. Controller John Chiang said withholding the payments is the state's only option because Sacramento's inability to pass a budget has caused a cash shortfall in Sacramento.
Prison system bleeds taxpayers
By Russ Neal, Paradise Post -- We have a financial crisis on our hands in the state of California and that crisis includes our prison system. And here's why we should be worried: The California prison population has increased by 73 percent since 1990, which is nearly three times faster than the general population. Our prisons currently house over 171,000 adults. Current cost to provide for these prisoners is $46,000 each - every year. Add to this the fact that the prison population is aging. Since 1990, the share of prisoners age 50 and older grew from 4 percent to 11 percent. With age, as we all know, comes increased health care costs for these prisoners. Federal receiver, J. Clark Kelso, has demanded that California pony up $8 billion for seven new, state-of-the-art medical facilities, which will cost the taxpayers of California, you and I, an additional $2.3 billion a year to run.
Inmate Release Order Poses Safety Issue in the Valley
By Cesar Rodriguez, News Channel 3 -- A special panel of three federal judges ordered the State of California to release more than 50,000 inmates because of the overcrowding and medical issues in the state's 33 prisons. According to some Coachella Valley residents, if the ruling stands, prisoners from the state prison in Blythe might see the Desert as a place to start over.
Inmate raped by cellmates can sue prison guards
By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle -- The state Supreme Court allowed a transgender former prison inmate on Wednesday to proceed with a lawsuit accusing prison guards of failing to protect her from being raped and beaten by her cellmates. Prison officials denied failing to protect Giraldo, who was housed at the all-male prison because she had not undergone surgery. A San Francisco jury rejected her emotional-distress claim against six prison employees in August 2007 after the trial judge dismissed her claim of negligence, ruling that guards have no legal duty to protect inmates from harm.
Officials deny parole to man convicted of 1989 murder, shootings
Lake County News -- A man convicted of the 1989 murder of a co-worker and the shootings of two others was denied parole at a Tuesday hearing. The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer Francisco Mendoza Castillo, 71, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who attended the lifer hearing at California State Prison-Corcoran's Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, where he argued against Castillo’s release.
Prisons: Settle, don't appeal
Sacramento Bee -- The wholly predictable outcome to California's refusal to address prison overcrowding has occurred. A panel of three federal judges has tentatively ruled that the only remaining course to fix unconstitutional prison conditions is to reduce or limit the prison population. California has reached this juncture because its political branches – the governor and Legislature – have utterly failed to come up with a solution.
Readers send a message exposing big-time government waste
By Tom Elias, Gilroy Dispatch -- You'll be amazed at how much regular folks know about this and how they'll expose it with only the slightest encouragement. Here's what happened when this column revealed a single type of wasteful government negligence: Dozens of readers responded with examples big-time squandered tax dollars.
The Prison Crises
La Opinion -- The tentative ruling by a panel of federal judges ordering California to release tens of thousands of inmates, due to overcrowding that is causing detainee deaths and suicides, should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is the result of an irrational tough-on-crime policy that politicians encouraged without considering its long-term consequences. This doesn’t mean that the prison gates will be swung open for murderers and rapists, as one might be led to believe by the reaction of State Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger. Rather than fighting the judges’ preliminary ruling, California should seize the moment to make important reforms to its costly prison system.
Criminal justice scholar: Parole reform is key to solving overcrowding in California prisons
By Julia Mitric, 89.3 KPCC -- California might have to work up a plan to free as many as 55,000 prison inmates. A panel of federal judges is on the verge of ordering those releases to improve conditions inside the state's 33 prisons. Corrections officials say what the judges want amounts to sending seven prisons' worth of criminals out onto the streets. But KPCC's Julia Mitric says one criminal justice scholar contends it doesn't have to be that way.