Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips


CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Paul Robins and Mae Fesai, Fox 40 News

Paul is taking a look at the Folsom Prison Museum.
The court order allows supporters of the 92-year-old building to make fixes before winter weather hits.
Patrick O’Neill, The Press Enterprise

A group of Norco preservationists that sued the state to save the Lake Norconian Club hotel has won a judge’s permission to enter the historic building and protect it from winter weather.

The court order, issued Nov. 6 by Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez, allows supporters of the 92-year-old building to make temporary repairs that would save it from further damage until the case is resolved. The former hotel is on the grounds of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, but most of it is not used by the prison.

Amy Beth Hanson, Great Falls Tribune

HELENA — The Department of Corrections is looking at adding computer programming classes to state prison education programs to improve inmates’ chances of getting jobs when they finish their sentences, the agency said Monday.

Two administrators with the department and the state’s chief information technology officer recently visited the Folsom and San Quentin state prisons in California and reviewed programs designed to help train inmates for work in fields in which employers can’t attract enough qualified staff.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Jason Kotowski, The Bakersfield Californian 

A Kern County judge has issued a gag order barring attorneys from commenting on the murder case against former NFL player Lawrence Phillips.

Judge Colette M. Humphrey said Tuesday, upon reconsidering a prosecution motion for the order, that the case has reached the point where the amount of negative publicity is damaging Phillips’ right to a fair trial. The more the case is fought in the media, she said, the greater the likelihood difficulties will be encountered in empaneling an impartial jury.

The order allows attorneys to comment on basic information such as the identities of those involved in the case, the expected length of the trial and the dates of scheduled hearings. And Humphrey said the order places no limitations on the media and their right to cover the hearings.

Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court on Monday appeared torn over whether to overturn a San Francisco woman's murder conviction for a fatal 2001 dog mauling of a neighbor whose death attracted national attention.

During about 30 minutes of legal sparring in a San Francisco courtroom, a three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel sent mixed signals on the appeal of Marjorie Knoller, serving 15 years to life in prison in connection with the fatal dog mauling of Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old Saint Mary's College women's lacrosse coach.

Reed Tucker, The New York Post

ABC may have just killed “Wicked City,” but the story that inspired it still shocks to this day.

It was based on the real story of two of Los Angeles’ most notorious murderers — the Sunset Strip Killers, so-called because they picked up victims along the famous boulevard.

The murders began piling up in June 1980, when the half-naked bodies of two runaways — 15-year-old Gina Narano and her half-sister Cynthia Chandler, 16 — were found in some bushes. Both had been shot in the head.

DEATH PENALTY

Rundle, Suarez, Mickey face lethal injection for multiple murders
Gus Thomson, Auburn Journal

A recent photo from San Quentin State Prison shows David Rundle no longer the young man tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Placer County for the murders of two women almost three decades ago.

Rundle was 21 when he was arrested and 24 when he arrived at San Quentin’s death row. He’s now 50 – one of 747 convicted murderers awaiting execution in California. He’s spent more than half of his life behind bars for the killings, with no end in sight.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Frederick Newhall Woods is the last of the three kidnappers remaining in prison. His supporters say he has served his time.
Alexander Nguyen, Patch

The last of the three young men from wealthy Bay Area families is seeking his freedom after nearly 40 years behind bars for kidnapping a busload of Chowchilla schoolchildren in 1976 and buried them in a quarry in Livermore for ransom.

Frederick Newhall Woods, 64, along with friends James and Richard Schoenfeld were convicted in the kidnapping in 1977.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Sonseeahray Tonsall, Fox 40 News

The point of incarceration is for a debt to be paid to society for a crime committed against it.

"Now that victim's given a promise by this community that that person would get 12 years, yet it's all been undone and they get out in 50 percent of the time and that's disturbing to me," Sacramento County District Attorney Ann Marie Schubert said.

So disturbing, that Schubert is posting names of so-called "non-violent second strikers" cleared for early release and opposition to each such case on her website.

Brittny Mejia, The Los Angeles Times 

Peter "Sana" Ojeda sat quietly, occasionally rubbing a hand over his wrinkled face, his cheeks drooping down and setting his mouth into a permanent frown. The 73-year-old looked more like a none too happy grandpa than who he was accused of being: the reputed godfather of the Mexican Mafia in Orange County.

The gray-haired defendant studied the jury. The 12 men and women seemed to be staring anywhere in the courtroom but at Ojeda.

Meanwhile, U.S. marshals in the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana this week kept an eye on the alleged "Eme" kingpin during the early part of a trial that could last about a month.           

OPINION

Debra J. Saunders, The San Francisco Chronicle

Former San Francisco 49ers star Kermit Alexander is death penalty opponents’ worst nightmare. Foes of the death penalty argue that the criminal justice system is skewed against African Americans and that prosecutors are less likely to seek the death penalty when victims are black. Alexander is an African American who grew up in the projects of Los Angeles.

So were the four members of his family slain in a 1984 contract killing gone wrong. He has watched the three black men convicted for the murders try to escape responsibility for their crimes. In prison Darren Williams — the Rolling 60s Crips gang member in charge of the contract hit to kill a disabled woman who lived two doors down the street — has his own website, Free Darren Williams, with a link, “Black Lives Matter.”

The New York Times 

What happens when you release thousands of prison inmates before the end of their sentences?

It’s a question at the heart of the effort to address America’s overincarceration crisis. There are the inevitable warnings that crime will go up, but they are rarely borne out by the facts. California’s most recent prison and jail reform offers perhaps the best test case yet.

Until recently, California locked up more people per capita than any other state. It has been under federal court order since 2009 to bring its severely overcrowded prison system below 137.5 percent of capacity, or about 114,000 inmates. It met that modest goal in February, thanks in part to a 2014 ballot initiative that reclassified six low-level offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

Scott Martelle, The Los Angeles Times 

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday kicked back a district court ruling that inherent delays in California’s death penalty make it arbitrary, and thus unconstitutional. But the three-judge appellate court didn’t weigh the merits of the arguments -- it overturned Judge Cormac J. Carney’s ruling on procedural grounds. The details are a bit arcane, but the brave can dive into the decision here.

In one sense, the decision is a loss for those hoping for an end to the death penalty (me among them). But it’s also a non-decision because the appellate judges didn’t take up the heart of Carney’s ruling, and his logic is quite compelling. In a nutshell, the very structure of California’s death penalty means that who among the condemned actually gets put to death is determined by an arbitrary process that drags out so long that the execution serves neither as a deterrent nor as an act of retribution, important thresholds under previous Supreme Court decisions.

William Horner, Highlander

Last November, California voters chose to take a meaningful step fixing our broken prison system by voting in favor of Proposition 47, but now some within the police department are trying to undermine this effort before all the facts are out.

Now of course it’s important for the police to keep our streets safe by punishing those who violate the law, but in recent decades, our legal system has gone overboard. After adopting an incredibly harsh “three-strikes law,” state prisons became so overcrowded and unsanitary that the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional and ordered the state to reduce the prison population.

Erika D. Smith, The Sacramento Bee

For all of the talk about criminal justice reform in California, the prisoners who’ve been bumped to county jails, the others who have been let out altogether, and the fears about rising crime rates because of it, there are some stories that never get told.

Stories about people who made dumb mistakes but managed to escape the criminal justice system altogether, largely because of this fundamental shift in the way we, as a society, respond to criminal behavior.

But Yolo County is full of these stories. It’s home to a growing, volunteer-based criminal diversion program dubbed Neighborhood Court.