Friday, April 21, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

The men Daniel Hopper teaches about drug and alcohol abuse are serving sentences of 10 years to life at a state prison tucked away in the Vaca Mountains of Northern California. They grew up in different places, most of them under difficult circumstances: dangerous schools and neighborhoods, fathers behind bars, brothers in gangs.

Hopper, a tall 35-year-old with cropped black hair, rectangular glasses and piercing wit, can relate to them on a level few others can. He is doing time for killing another teenager when he was 17 and a San Diego gang leader.

“Going to prison was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Hopper said. It forced him to face what he did — and live differently, he said.


Sacramento State News

Sacramento State Photography Professor Nigel Poor has won a Jefferson Award for expanding her work with San Quentin State Prison inmates to include a podcast that provides details on daily life in the facility.

“Ear Hustle” – prison slang for eavesdropping – is produced and co-hosted by Poor and inmate Earlonne Woods, and focuses on personal stories about life “inside.” Poor produces interviews along with co-producers Woods and another inmate, Antwan Williams. Topics include what the first day in prison is like, coping with HIV, pets in prison, and how birthdays are celebrated in prison.


Phillip Reese, The Sacramento Bee

California’s death row houses more senior citizens than most of the state’s nursing homes.

Ninety California death-row inmates are at least 65 years old, corrections records show. The number of seniors on death row has grown by nearly 500 percent since early 2006, when the state housed 16 seniors.

California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, largely due to legal challenges to its lethal injection protocol. California voters approved Proposition 66 in November, demanding that the state speed up the death penalty process. The implementation of Proposition 66 is on hold as the Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality.


State Could Let 82-Year-Old Out Of Prison
Brian Pempus, Card Player

An elderly man could soon get to walk free again nearly 40 years after shooting and killing another man in a poker home game over $4.

The Modesto Bee reported Thursday that California granted parole to Matthew Gooch, 82, who has been in prison ever since being convicted of the 1980 slaying of Franklin Woods Jr. The Governor’s Office is reviewing the parole board’s decision.


Joseph Tanfani, The Los Angeles Times

The Justice Department on Friday fired an opening shot in the Trump administration’s crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, sending letters to nine jurisdictions asking for proof that they are cooperating with immigration enforcement, and indicating they are at risk of losing federal grants.

The letters went to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as officials in Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New York and Cook County, Ill.


SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) — A condemned inmate at San Quentin State Prison attacked a corrections officer with an inmate-made knife Thursday morning, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The unidentified officer suffered a severe facial injury and received treatment at a local hospital, CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton said. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Inmate Anthony Delgado, 49, was having a medical examination when he attacked the corrections officer with an inmate-manufactured weapon just after 9 a.m. in the prison’s Adjustment Center – one of five units that house condemned inmates at San Quentin, Thornton said.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- A federal judge said Wednesday that she will fine California $1,000 a day if state officials don't start providing swifter care for mentally ill inmates.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said she is fed up with the treatment delays that have plagued the prison mental health system despite two decades of federal oversight.

She gave the state until May 15 to end a chronic backlog in sending inmates to state mental facilities. The $1,000-a-day fines for each inmate whose treatment is delayed would start accumulating May 16, but wouldn't be collected until she holds a hearing in November to decide if the state complied.

Sam Stanton, The Sacramento Bee

A federal judge in Sacramento is threatening to fine the state $1,000 per day starting next month for every inmate whose transfer to mental health care facilities is delayed beyond the state’s own deadlines for providing such care.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller issued her 15-page order Wednesday in a long-running dispute between the state and advocates for mentally ill inmates, who contend the state still is not in compliance with its own rules for how quickly inmates must be transferred to mental health care programs.

In her order, Mueller wrote that the state has fallen out of compliance repeatedly with its own deadline for providing care and that “this cycle must be broken.”


Oculus and entrepreneurship program Defy Ventures are using motivational exercises and groundbreaking VR films to change lives on both sides of the prison wall.
Daniel Terdiman, Fast Company

I’m standing in the gym in B Yard at Pelican Bay State Prison, just outside Crescent City, the small, isolated, coastal town close to the Oregon border, where California sends the worst of the worst of its criminals. Traditionally, violence here has been off the charts and inmates frequently battle each other in racial gang fights.

But today, 37 Pelican Bay inmates–men of all races, many serving long terms for murder–are together in the gym, working side by side, laughing and even bear-hugging, and sometimes crying. Clark Ducart, the prison’s warden since 2014, is very impressed.


Brianna Calix, The Merced Sun-Star

Chowchilla- Once a week, inmates at Valley State Prison who typically might not interact come together to make Native American jewelry from thousands of tiny beads that come in all colors.

They work from patterns on homemade looms to make all sorts of designs – NFL logos, cartoon characters, names of family members and traditional designs. Once their patterns are finished, they sew them onto leather

“It gives us a way out for a little while,” said Justin Henson, 28, from Fresno. “It’s something that you’re proud of that you can ship to your family.”

Zak Dahlheimer, KESQ

HEMET, Calif. - As part of continued training and preparing for the upcoming wildfire season, CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire crews are holding their annual Fire Preparedness Exercise Thursday.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) inmate crews from the CAL FIRE Riverside Unit will take part in the exercise, evaluating their ability to safely put out wildfires.

Crews are observed and rated in drills, including their ability to hike, construct hand line utilizing hand tools, deployment of Fire Shelters in an attempt to prepare for a life-threatening burn over situation.


Foon Rhee, The Sacramento Bee

There’s one item on my reporting bucket list I never did check off – witnessing an execution. I came very close once, even getting a tour of the gas chamber.

The condemned inmate was David Lawson, convicted of shooting Wayne Shinn in the back of the head during a home break-in. I talked to Shinn’s family and covered Lawson’s news conference when he blamed depression for driving him to murder and urged other mentally ill people to get help. “I desperately want my death to have meaning,” he said. “I am no monster.”

Lawson became a national story because he and TV talk show host Phil Donahue wanted his execution to be the first one televised in the United States. So at first, I was disappointed that another reporter was chosen as a witness.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


The Los Angeles Times

As California prison officials shift toward inmate programs centered on rehabilitation and education, they are evaluating new regulations for awarding time credits for good behavior and reaching milestones.

Bill Lindelof, The Sacramento Bee

Two correctional officers at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione suffered minor injuries when they were allegedly hit by inmates while in the mess hall.

At dinner Monday, an officer confronted an inmate who was noticed taking an extra food tray from the serving line. The inmate and his cellmate then attacked the officer, hitting him in the head, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release.

Suspect shot and killed victim in 2015
Rasna Suri, abc 23 News

BAKERSFIELD – The man accused of killing a 23-year-old Marine Veteran was sentenced in court today.

Alonso Corona shot and killed Victor Anaya in Southwest Bakersfield in August of 2015. He was arrested and faced several charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder, gang member in possession of a loaded firearm, participation in a criminal street gang, and shooting at an occupied dwelling.


Sierra Wave Media

Former Inyo County Health & Human Services Integrated Caseworker Supervisor Dawndee Rossy was sentenced today to nine years in prison to be served at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Ms. Rossy has been in custody at the Inyo County Jail since August 29, 2016, and will soon be transported to the reception center for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,543,785.24, plus an additional $272,491.00 for unpaid state income tax.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


DELANO, Calif. (AP) - The California Department of Corrections says guards have been injured by prisoners in two assaults at Kern Valley State Prison.

The first assault occurred about 6:40 a.m. Monday when an inmate refused to go into a cell and punched one of two escorting officers, knocking one down stairs.

Darrell Smith, The Sacramento Bee

Robert Castorena sat stoically next to his attorney, his face hidden behind a thick thatch of beard, his hair matted into a bushy pony tail, the gray in both symbolizing the years that have passed since he stabbed his wife to death and left their children with her body inside the family’s South Land Park home.
Castorena had fully recovered his sanity, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Bunmi Awoniyi ruled from the bench, and he was no longer a danger to himself or others.
Since Castorena was sane, the judge found, he could now be sent to prison.


Sonoma Index-Tribune

A convicted murderer won’t get out of prison anytime soon after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on April 13 denied parole to 62-year-old William Barton, of Santa Rosa.
The charges resulted from the robbery and shooting of two farm workers on March 23, 1975. Victims, 40-year-old Sabino Sotelo and his 16-year-old son, Gregorio Sotelo, were shot by Barton multiple times with a .22 caliber handgun.


William La Jeunesse, Fox News

More than a dozen states are considering prison reform measures to drastically reduce their inmate populations to save money. But law enforcement in California are blaming their reforms for a recent uptick in crime.

"The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show violent crime rates in some California cities has increased by over 50 percent," said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.  "If you look at the national data, our violent crime rates are going up faster than the rest of the nation. So why?"

Prosecutors and police have an explanation -- a series of prison reform measures, which reduce the state prison population by 20,000 inmates by releasing non-violent offenders early and making some felonies misdemeanors. One law, Assembly Bill 109, transferred 60,000 felony parole violators a year from state prison to county control. The measure saved California $100 million but some argue it was not without casualties.

Jeff Jardine, The Modesto Bee

You (or someone who looks just like you) have been arrested and hauled down to the county jail to be booked, fingerprinted, your mug shot taken and allowed that all-important phone call.
Whether you use it to phone a bail bond agent directly or have someone else call for you, depending upon the alleged crime you can be free within in a couple of hours – presuming you can raise the 10 percent down.
But Tuesday in Sacramento, state legislators likely will take a step toward joining a number of other states in the nation that have eliminated bail altogether. Assembly Bill 42, authored by Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, goes before the State Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety on Tuesday, where it is expected to move on to the appropriations committee toward a possible floor vote in June.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Steve Flores, The Californian

Made famous by the galactically successful Star Wars film franchise, the Millennium Falcon was known as the fastest ship in the galaxy. Despite her unassuming beginnings and rough exterior, the Falcon has made its mark in the epic space opera film series — and in an unexpected place in Wasco.

When I walked onto the yard last Monday and saw the newest version of the Millennium Falcon being built for her next adventure, I felt like I had walked into a makeshift hobby shop instead of a guarded fenced area at the Wasco State Prison.

And although the detailed work wasn’t quite done, like a parent watching his or her child ride a bike for the first time, all seven inmates stood and proudly gleamed at the large Millennium Falcon model they built from prison refuse.


James Herrera, Monterey Herald

Salinas >> Charges were filed Friday morning against convicted sex offender Charles Holifield in the slaying of Christina Williams. He is expected to be arraigned on May 9, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

“We have filed the complaint and are pursuing the arrest warrant to bring him here,” said Jeannine Pacioni, assistant district attorney.

Holifield faces charges of murder with enhancements including special circumstances for kidnapping, lewd acts on a child and for prior convictions for previous crimes and other allegations. He also is charged with kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, a special allegation for a minor under the age of 14, intent to commit great bodily injury and an allegation of habitual sexual offender because of prior forcible rape convictions.


Susan Christian Goulding, The Orange County Register

FULLERTON A six-week investigation of a Feb. 27 shooting led Fullerton police officers to Hawaiian Gardens, where a suspect was taken into custody, officials said Saturday.

On Friday, April 14, Michael Benavidez, 27, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a brief pursuit on foot, the department announced. The Hawaiian Gardens resident was also found to be in possession of methamphetamine, police said.


Jim Holt, The Signal

A Corrections officer was injured and airlifted to a hospital Thursday night after a big rig collided with a convoy of law enforcement vehicles being delivered to the Antelope Valley State Prison.

The traffic collision happened shortly after 8:50 p.m. on Highway 138 near Gorman when a convoy of five Specialized Ford SUVs – called Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles – collided with a tractor-trailer on Highway 138 just near 300 Street West.

“Preliminary investigative efforts indicate five on-duty California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officers were driving five Ford PIUVs in tandem on the eastbound SR-138, approaching 300 Street West,” California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Greengard told The Signal Friday.

Chelcey Adami , The Californian

Name: Tyrone Mays

Position: Parole Agent 1

Department/Company: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Years of Experience: 17


WATSONVILLE, Calif. — A Watsonville man with 12 previous DUI convictions was found guilty again this week by a jury for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Francisco Napoles Medina, 54, has served four prior prison terms for previous DUI convictions, but he apparently still didn't get the message to not drink and drive.

Medina will be sentenced May 10 by Monterey County Judge Pamela L. Butler. He faces a maximum sentence of 7 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, District Attorney Dean Flippo said.

Laurel Rosenhall, The San Francisco Chronicle

A cattle-ranching billionaire headed into Gov. Jerry Brown’s office the other day with redemption on his mind.

Redemption for prisoners who wind up behind bars because their own tortured childhoods led them to lives of crime. Redemption for veterans who bring home wartime scars that cause addiction and violence. And redemption, perhaps, even for himself — born into privilege, born again as a Christian, and determined to make a difference with his wealth.

“If you listen to the stories of the men and women who have been incarcerated, it’s horrible what they’ve been through,” B. Wayne Hughes Jr. said as he stood outside Brown’s office.


The Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration has embarked on a stepped-up campaign to capture and deport immigrants living in the United States illegally, even if they’ve been here for a long time, have deep roots in the community and have been law-abiding and productive members of American society.

It’s a mean-spirited, costly and unnecessary approach to illegal immigration that will divide families and destabilize communities at enormous cost to taxpayers, while providing little or no public benefit. California legislators are right to object, and to insist that state and local resources not be spent on helping the federal government in this misguided policy.

Maureen Washburn, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

There is growing interest nationwide in designating specialized prison space for young adults under age 25. Although these projects are often couched in the language of treatment and developmental differences, specialty facilities could expose states to a pitfall of multitiered prison systems: targeting some with superficial reforms, while leaving others out.

Investing in new facilities draws scarce resources and attention away from reforms that work, including local, small-scale and community-driven alternatives to incarceration. Advocates must ensure that these new facilities do not result in increased incarceration or a growing tolerance for inadequate conditions in traditional prisons.