Monday, November 30, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Kenneth Craig, CBS News

Prisons can be described as many things, but "peaceful" is not usually one of them. For those convicted of crimes from robbery to murder, being locked up is a harsh way of life. But for those who plan on -- or will one day be -- returning to society, practicing yoga can help them learn to find peace before they are released.

Danny Plunkett is a prisoner at San Quentin State Prison -- a notorious lockup on the San Francisco Bay. It's not a place where one might expect to find hardened criminals resting in lotus or child's pose. But Plunkett is three years into his yoga practice -- and 26 years into a prison sentence for murder and robbery.

Champion Newspapers

Three inmates at California Institution for Women in Chino suffered injuries from a fire inside the prison Tuesday, said prison spokeswoman Lt. Rosie Thomas.

Firefighters with Chino Valley Fire District and the prison fire department were called to a blaze at 12:36 p.m. inside a two-person segregation unit cell. The fire was extinguished at 12:49 p.m.

Walter Ryce, Monterey County Weekly

A new documentary follows a white mafioso (John Piccirillo), a black ex-gangbanger (Sam Lewis) and a veteran prison warden (Ben Curry) preparing to deal with a fundamental change in the codes they live and die by.

Award-winning filmmaker Noel Schwerin went into the state prison in Soledad repeatedly over a span of seven years and emerged with In An Ideal World.

From a wider perspective, it’s about how our ideas of justice hold up in the harsh institutional realities of prison.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

FOX Sports

Take a closer look into San Quentin State Prison and how tennis became an oasis for a group of unlikely players.

Result of law intended to modify tough-on-crime measure; Few found reoffending
Greg Moran, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Three years after voters approved a change in the state’s Three Strikes sentencing law that held out hope some inmates could reduce their life sentences, 94 percent of eligible inmates have been given shorter sentences by San Diego Superior Court judges.

That comes out to 201 inmates who successfully petitioned judges to reduce their terms of at least 25 years to life in prison, according to statistics provided by the court. The court said some 170 petitions had been denied, but that number includes both inmates who were denied because they were not eligible for a reduction under the terms of the law as well as those who were turned down because, although eligible, a judge determined they should not be released.

Mike Devlin, Times Colonist

Singer-songwriter Linda McRae’s decision to leave Spirit of the West in 1997, following eight successful years with the beloved Vancouver group, felt a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool.

To her surprise, a new pursuit that sees her host writing workshops at, among other places, North American correctional facilities — including a maximum security California prison built to house problematic inmates serving long sentences — feels less daunting.

Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle

A federal jury in San Francisco has awarded $25,000 in damages to a prison activist who said guards trashed his cell in retaliation for his lawsuit against the state and his published articles criticizing the prison system’s practices of solitary confinement.

In a rare legal victory for an inmate against correctional officers, jurors decided Thursday that four guards at Pelican Bay State Prison in Del Norte County had violated Jesse Perez’s free-speech rights by searching his cell in October 2012 and falsely accusing him of a serious rules violation. On Friday, jurors awarded Perez $20,000 to compensate for intimidation and emotional distress, and $5,000 in punitive damages against Sgt. Anthony Gates, who led the search.

Kate Briquelet, The Daily Beast

Note: “William Holmes, an inmate at Ironwood State Prison, made an affidavit in 2013 that he and four other men killed victim John Hartman in 1997.”

Racist investigators and a lack of evidence have cast doubt on the conviction of 4 native teens in a 1997 Alaska murder. So why are they still in jail?

It was around 2:45 a.m. when the grisly sight came into view. Three friends in Fairbanks, Alaska were heading home from a bar when they discovered a teen lying on the curb, kicked in the head so many times he was unrecognizable.

John Hartman was weeks past his 15th birthday that night in October 1997, when he was savagely beaten and left for dead. The driver who found him later testified, “I could see his breath was still coming out. I could still see it in the cold air.”

Convicted for murder of wife, unborn child in 2005
News 10

SAN DIEGO - A more than 200-page petition for a writ of habeas corpus has been filed with the Supreme Court of the State of California on Scott Peterson's behalf to have his murder conviction overturned.

Peterson was convicted in 2005 of first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Laci, and second-degree murder for the death of their unborn child.

On a website dedicated to Scott Peterson's appeal, his family said there are 19 claims in the petition that highlight new evidence that shows the court should overturn his conviction.

Pablo Lopez, The Fresno Bee

A Kerman man who has spent more than three decades on California’s death row for raping and killing his 12-year-old stepdaughter is ineligible for the death penalty because he is intellectually disabled, a Fresno County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Instead, Judge Wayne Ellison said Donald Griffin should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Ellison’s ruling is the first of its kind in Fresno County Superior Court and gives death-penalty opponents new fuel to ban capital punishment in California.

Michael Mott, Willits News

NOTE: Inmates from Parlin Fork Conservation Camp assisted in the search.

Night was falling fast when Raina Rinker, age 5, was found in a clearing by a Laytonville Cal Fire Engine 1154 ground crew. She disappeared six hours earlier and during her ordeal had lost her shoes, sweatpants and sweater.

They found her three quarters of a mile away from her home above Brooktrails on Skyview Road. The terrain was wooded and steep with a nearly 400 ft drop in elevation. Cal Fire Copter 101 flew her to the search commmand post Sherwood Elementary School around 5 p.m. on Nov. 20.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

9 adults, 3 juveniles arrested in multi-agency operation
Keith Carls, KEYT

A total of 12 suspected gang members or gang associates have been arrested in a major law enforcement operation targeting gang offenders in the Santa Maria area.

Monday's compliance check operation follows a string of suspected gang-related shootings last Friday night in Santa Maria that left a 17-year-old teen dead and several others in the hospital with gunshot wounds.

Carl Stoffers, New York Daily News

They’ll extort you, force you to sell and smuggle their drugs — and, if you resist, leave you for dead.

Violent gangs have long muscled their power inside U.S. prisons and pose a constant threat to the safety of everyone behind bars, both inmates and staff.

Here is a look at the most notorious prison gangs:

OPINION

The Sacramento Bee

By many measures, Gov. Jerry Brown has improved California’s criminal justice system as he has fought and finally sought to comply with court orders forcing an end to unconstitutional prison conditions.

But compelled by a 2014 order from the federal judges who oversee prison operations, the Brown administration is freeing felons who by their actions have proved they do not deserve to have their sentences shortened.

Orange County Register

Is the death penalty viable in California? Until recently, opposing it usually meant political suicide at the state level. In 1986, Rose Bird, chief justice of the California Supreme Court and Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointee, was booted from office by voters after she overturned 64 straight death-penalty convictions. So were two like-minded associate justices.

After that, even Democrats promised to execute the worst criminals. Democratic Gov. Gray Davis executed five men. His successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, terminated three, the last being Clarence Ray Allen, convicted of organizing three murders. As the Los Angeles Times reported, “At the time of the killings, Allen was in prison, convicted of the 1974 murder of Mary Sue Kitts.”