Monday, August 21, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Paul Elias, The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a story Aug. 17 about suicides at California women's prisons, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of women's prisons in the state. It has two, not four.

A corrected version of the story is below:

The state auditor says suicides spiked at a California women's prison after officials failed to properly prepare for the transfer of 400 of the state's most dangerous female inmates to the facility.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Christopher Zoukis, Huffington Post

California corrections officials are revamping the state’s parole system, aiming to make thousands more inmates eligible for early release.

Last November, by a nearly 2-1 margin, California voters approved Proposition 57, a ballot initiative seeking to trim the state prison system’s population by 11,500 over the next four years.

As approved, Proposition 57 would create additional ways inmates could earn credits to reduce the length of sentences, such as by signing up for some education, career or rehabilitation classes, and other moves to build up “good time” credits. The initiative also empowered the State Board of Parole Hearings to give early release to a new category of state prison inmates — those who have served their base sentence term for a primary crime not designated by state law as a violent offense, even if they have not yet served time for sentence enhancements and additional charges.

Lake County News

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A man convicted nearly 40 years ago of the brutal murder of an elderly Lucerne man has been denied parole for the 13th time.

On Wednesday, the Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer Jeffrey Scott Sargent, 67.

Senior Lake County Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine attended the lifer hearing at the Department of Corrections California Health Care Facility in Stockton, successfully arguing against Sargent’s release.

Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday commuted the sentences of nine California prisoners who were convicted over the past three decades primarily of murder or attempted murder.

Seven are now eligible to appear before the state Board of Parole Hearings, which will determine whether they are ready to be released.

The Democratic governor has now issued 18 commutations since returning to office in 2011, including seven in April, compared to one in his first two terms. That is far more than his immediate four predecessors, two of whom issued no commutations, but in line with historic figures for other governors. His father, former Gov. Pat Brown, issued 55.

Paul Elias, The Associated Press

Florence Laurel Anderson, a prostitute convicted in Humboldt County of murder alongside her abusive pimp, was among the nine inmates serving time for violent crimes commuted Friday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

According to the commutation, in April 2001 Anderson went to the motel room of Bruce James with her pimp Michael Lane who intended to rob him. Lane stabbed James to death, and he, Anderson and two others made off with $49, credit cards, jewelry and clothing.

PROPOSITION 57

Highland Community News

SACRAMENTO - Today, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) submitted a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as part of a public comment period regarding proposed regulations that could lead to the early release of dangerous "nonviolent" inmates and diminish victim rights.

"For years, Democrats in Sacramento have led California in a dangerous direction when it comes to the criminal justice system and the safety of our citizens. Unfortunately, in light of the passage of Proposition 57, the state is on the verge of taking yet another detrimental step that could result in more dangerous criminals back on our streets," said Morrell. "We must continue working to keep our communities safe and that is why I am reaching out for the public's help in this effort. I have submitted my own concerns to CDCR and urge Californians to also join me in making their voices heard on this important issue. "

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Laurel Rosenhall, San Francisco Chronicle

SACRAMENTO — Inmates at the state prison in Lancaster in Los Angeles County got an unusual perk this spring: a private meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide and a Grammy-award winning rapper.

It was one stop in a larger effort that has recently brought Common — a musician who blends hip-hop beats with an activist message — close to key California decision-makers. After an artistic career that propelled him from the south side of Chicago to poetry nights in the Obama White House, the 45-year-old rapper is now working to influence state policy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


CDCR NEWS

Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

California corrections officials have failed to ensure prison staff members properly evaluate, treat and monitor inmates at risk of taking their own lives, according to a scathing state audit released Thursday.

The California State Auditor report, requested by a joint legislative audit committee, found state prisons failed to follow their own suicide prevention and response policies, while their average suicide rate was substantially higher than the average of U.S. state prisons — 22 per 100,000 inmates versus 15.66 per 100,000 inmates.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Hannah Knowles, The Sacramento Bee

Rioting involving more than 350 inmates broke out Thursday at a prison in Jamestown, sending seven to the hospital with injuries, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports.

The riot began about 9:50 a.m. in the Sierra Conservation Center’s main exercise yard, according to Robert Kelsey, public information officer for the correctional facility. Kelsey said an investigation is ongoing and the cause of the violence has not been determined.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Gabrielle Karol, ABC 10

Septembers are always hard for the Vanderschoot family.

It was September 2003 – Labor Day – when 17-year-old Justine Vanderschoot disappeared.

After weeks of searching, Vanderschoot’s body was found. Her boyfriend, Danny Bezemer, and his friend Brandon Fernandez were charged in her murder. Bezemer received a sentence of 25 years to life, while Fernandez received a lesser sentence of 15 years to life.

DEATH PENALTY

Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register

Orange County prosecutions have resulted in nine death sentences since 2010. Admitted mass murderer Scott Dekraai could be the 10th, depending on whether a judge takes the death penalty off the table. Dekraai killed eight people in Seal Beach in 2011, but the misuse of jailhouse informants by prosecutors and deputies could convince the judge that Dekraai would not receive a fair penalty trial.

California’s death row inmates

California has 748 people on death row, 300 more than the next highest state.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Laurel Rosenhall, KQED

Inmates at the state prison in Lancaster got an unusual perk this spring: a private meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide and a Grammy-award winning rapper.

It was one stop in a larger effort that has recently brought Common — a musician who blends hip-hop with an activist message — close to key California decision-makers.

After an artistic career that propelled him from the south side of Chicago to poetry nights in the Obama White House, the 45-year-old rapper is now working to influence state policy. A resident of Los Angeles, Common is trying to change the criminal justice system in California.

Beatriz E. Valenzuela, The Press-Enterprise

SAN BERNARDINO >> Authorities on Thursday night, Aug. 17, captured a Patton State Hospital patient who walked away from a rehabilitation facility following surgery.

Vaheh Zaghian, 47, was found at a family member’s home in Glendale by the California Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension team, San Bernardino police Lt. Mike Madden said.

OPINION

"We must continue working to keep our communities safe and that is why I am reaching out for the public's help in this effort."
Renee Schiavone, Patch

BEAUMONT, CA — The Pass Area's state senator, Mike Morrell, on Friday released the following statement and information for publication. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Today, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) submitted a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as part of a public comment period regarding proposed regulations that could lead to the early release of dangerous "nonviolent" inmates and diminish victim rights.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


CDCR NEWS

Eric King, Entertainment Weekly

Netflix’s upcoming documentary series Fire Chasers, about California firefighters combatting increasingly common and severe wildfires, released its first trailer Thursday. The series will explore how climate change, altered vegetation patterns, and drought have made these natural disasters more frequent and more devastating to the landscape and feature graphic time lapses depicting fires eating up stretches of land and emotional testimonials from firefighters and fire victims.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

CMC works to shut the revolving door of offenders by preparing them for community reentry
Karen Garcia, New Times

Christopher Sheehan walked into a head shop in Huntington Beach with his partner in crime, armed, and ready to rob the joint.

While the two were instructing employees to hand over money, one employee activated a silent alarm. That prompted a nearby police officer patrolling the area to respond to the call.

The officer ordered both men to kneel in front of a wall, but Sheehan argued, distracting the officer. It bought his partner time to shoot at the officer.

PROPOSITION 57

Shea Johnson, Daily Press

State Sen. Scott Wilk is imploring the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to “consider the full impact” that Proposition 57, which increases the number of inmates eligible for parole, will have on victims, the public and law enforcement officers as it mulls regulations to implement the voter-approved law.

State Sen. Scott Wilk is imploring the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to “consider the full impact” that Proposition 57, which increases the number of inmates eligible for parole, will have on victims, the public and law enforcement officers as it mulls regulations to implement the voter-approved law.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Erin Delmore, Bustle

Amid pressure from lawmakers, the federal Bureau of Prisons announced it is improving access to basic menstrual needs for incarcerated women by ensuring female inmates are given pads and tampons in variety of sizes. While feminine hygiene products can be purchased in prison, former inmates and advocates say they are often of poor quality and limited in quantity — leaving women to beg for them from guards, to spend limited funds on marked-up products for sale in the commissary, or to go without.

According to a BOP memo issued this month, prison wardens will be required to provide women with free tampons and pads in two sizes, as well as panty liners. The announcement was made weeks after a group of Democratic Senators introduced The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act aimed at increasing quality of life for women behind bars. The Act, introduced in mid-July, would require quality sanitary products to be provided to female inmates at no cost and would ban shackling and solitary confinement for women during labor as well as pregnancy and recovery. It would also require the Bureau of Prisons to take into account the location of children under age 18 when determining a parent's placement in the prison system and would increase opportunities for inmates to communicate with their families and support systems beyond the prison's walls, from telephone calls to videoconferencing, by eliminating charges for those services. 

OPINION

Common, USA Today

Time to look at prisoners as human beings and eliminate life sentences for young offenders.

Guards stood on the rooftops of California's Ironwood State Prison.

As I walked onto the grounds, I heard the hum of the electric fence, a reminder that electrocution was the likely fate of anyone attempting escape. It was July, and I was there with my crew as part of a statewide Hope and Redemption Tour.

As I heard the gates close behind us, I imagined what it must have been like for an inmate to walk into a prison for the first time: dreams being overshadowed by what was done in the past, instead of encouraged by what could be done in the future — especially tough for offenders locked up as teens.

Beth and Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman, Special to The Bee

An open letter to the rapper Common:

We are sure you are sincere and passionate in your desire to hold your concert in Sacramento on Monday to raise awareness for justice reform.

But to the extent your advocacy worsens the downsides of existing reforms, or promotes questionable new ones now before lawmakers such as Senate Bill 10, you would be wise to understand that recent laws and numerous voter-approved propositions in California already allow for the release of tens of thousands of inmates on an ongoing basis. This is contributing to rising crime throughout our state, especially in the inner cities.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


CDCR NEWS

Adam Ashton, The Sacramento Bee

A California prison psychologist has filed a lawsuit against the state alleging she was threatened and demoted after she reported mistreatment of gay and transgender inmates at a correctional facility in Vacaville.

On two occasions, psychologist Lori Jespersen alleges, a correctional officer locked her in a confinement area with dangerous criminals after she filed complaints on behalf of transgender inmates at the California Medical Facility.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Has expanded to a total of four local prisons
Brandon Johansen, ABC 23 News

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. - A unique prison program that started in California City has now expanded to a total of four local prisons.

"Pawsitive Change", a volunteer-based prison program that pairs inmates with rescued dogs over a 14-week period, is now operational at North Kern State Prison and Wasco State Prison, in addition to previously established programs at California City Correctional Facility and Corcoran State Prison.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Ryan Hagen, San Bernardino County Sun

SACRAMENTO >> Kim Carter has dedicated half of her life to giving fresh starts to women and children while she herself was held back by the crimes of the first half of her life.

That didn’t stop her from helping more than 1,000 people or earning recognition as one of the top 10 CNN heroes, but she said the felony record prevented her from reaching her full potential.

“If you think I’ve made an impact now, just wait until I’m out from under this shroud,” Carter, founder and executive director of the Time for Change Foundation, said Tuesday.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Nina Agrawal, The Los Angeles Times

Michael C. Mejia violated his probation several times in the 10 months after he was released from Pelican Bay State Prison in April 2016.

Then, on Feb. 20, authorities say, Mejia gunned down his cousin, followed by the fatal shooting of Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer hours later. He has been charged with two counts of murder.

The officer’s slaying prompted a county investigation into Mejia’s release and his supervision by the L.A. County Probation Department. On Tuesday, it was cited repeatedly as a reason to create a blue-ribbon commission to study the impact of state criminal justice reforms in L.A. County.

OPINION

Daily News

In 2011, Gov. Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 109. This law was to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.

According to Brown, “For too long, the state’s prison system has been a revolving door for lower-level offenders and parole violators who are released within months—often before they are even transferred out of a reception center. Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision.”

While I would agree with Governor Brown’s assessment that the revolving door within the California prison system has been largely ineffective from a rehabilitation perspective, it seems to me that for several reasons AB 109 serves as a classic example of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Let me tell you why.

Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys
Eric Siddall, Fox and Hounds Daily

California needs a comprehensive approach to lowering incarceration rates – a plan that will not only lower incarceration levels, but preserve the historically low crime rates we currently enjoy. Sacramento’s current approach to this problem is mass early-release for felons – potentially at the expensive of public safety. A more ambitious and effective strategy – that simultaneously reduces incarceration and crime rates – would be to invest in comprehensive programs that reduce recidivism. This will require government spending on meaningful work programs for those released from state prison.

Since 1980, incarceration rates skyrocketed from 80 inmates for every 100,000 Californians to a peak of 701 per 100,000 in 2006. A combination of factors forced California to confront this problem, most notable of which was a 2009 federal court order mandating the state to abate prison overcrowding. State leaders had two options: Build more prisons or release prisoners.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


CDCR NEWS

Helen Murphy, Hollywood Reporter

The Orchard has set the film set at California’s Folsom State Prison for release in late October.

The Orchard is set to release prison documentary The Work on Oct. 20 in New York and Oct. 27 in Los Angeles, with more cities following.

In the film, level-four inmates at California’s Folsom State Prison are joined by three men from outside the penitentiary for a four-day group therapy retreat. Set entirely in one room, the doc follows the men as they engage in the intensive therapy workshop, exiting their comfort zones and stripping down the barriers and stereotypes between the free men and the incarcerated men.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

BREAKING: Police say the robber held the victim at knifepoint.
Renee Schiavone, Patch

MENLO PARK, CA — A San Jose man remains hospitalized after jumping an estimated 30 feet off of a pedestrian overcrossing in Menlo Park as he was fleeing from police, according to police and jail booking records. The man, 36-year-old Lamar Dekari Stevens, was running from authorities on Friday morning after allegedly breaking into a Menlo Park home, sexually assaulting a resident and then robbing the man.

According to Menlo Park police, around 4:50 a.m. Friday, Stevens broke into the home on the 1000 block of Ringwood Avenue. Once inside, he allegedly held a man at knifepoint and attacked him.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Renata Sago, National Public Radio

The moments inside a courtroom in Orlando in 2007 were quick and consequential for Marquis McKenzie. The 16-year-old stood handcuffed behind a lectern. A juvenile judge announced his charges, then apologized that he could no longer take up the case.

"You're being direct filed," he told McKenzie, who was accused of armed robbery over a cellphone and a wallet. "You understand what I'm saying? You're being charged as an adult now."