Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Daily Corrections Clips

REALIGNMENT

Matt Fountain, The Tribune

When John Stafford was paroled from prison in 2012, he wound up standing alone in a parking lot off Los Osos Valley Road at 2 a.m., watching the Greyhound bus pull away.

In his hand, he clutched everything he owned — $200, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ID card and a small bag of clothes. There was no job, no apartment and a dwindling number of friends to turn to.

“The world had moved on without me,” Stafford recalled. “It was back to square one again.”

Matt Fountain, The Tribune

When state lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 109 in 2011, the goal was to reduce severe overcrowding in California’s prisons by sentencing nonviolent low-level offenders to county jails and sending nonviolent prison parolees to county probation departments for post-release supervision.

To sweeten the deal, counties got state funding to handle the influx. In San Luis Obispo County, millions of dollars have been spent to create programs to help the offenders stay on track once they are released.

The individualized programs help offenders navigate the rough waters of finding housing, transportation, counseling for substance abuse or mental health issues, and steady work.

DEATH PENALTY

Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle

Opponents of California’s death penalty began an initiative campaign Monday to repeal the state’s capital punishment law at the polls in November and said they’ve lined up some conservative support and $2 million in financial backing.

Avishay Artsy, KQED

Right now, 746 inmates await execution in California. We don’t often hear from those inmates, let alone see artwork they make in prison. But organizers of a Los Angeles exhibition of art made by death row inmates from across the country say they hope to reveal the humanity of those people whose lives hang in the balance.

On July 16, 2014, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled that California’s death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it is arbitrary and plagued with delays. But that decision was overturned on Nov. 12, 2015, on technical grounds, which means executions could potentially move forward. The last execution in the state was in 2006.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Latest major criminal justice reform lowered jail populations across California
Dana Littlefield, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Last year, San Diego County's jail population was approaching critical levels. With the inmate population swelling over capacity — a condition caused mostly by criminal justice changes meant to curb overcrowding in state prisons — the Sheriff’s Department struggled to free up much-needed bed space.

To deal with the problem, Sheriff Bill Gore and his department have employed several tactics, including home detention programs, electronic monitoring and early release.

Capital Public Radio

Brian Fowlie and Kenny Blasingame are best friends who met in prison. Both were serving life sentences at California State Prison, Solano. At the time, their prospects were dim. They thought the only way “lifers” got out was by getting shot or stabbed to death, or by a drug overdose.

Although Fowlie and Blasingame had never seen a lifer granted parole, eventually both men were released from prison.  As they recounted in their StoryCorps interview from September 2015, it was their focus on sobriety, spirituality and the close bond they had with each other that helped turn their lives around from despair to hope.

Military.com

Veterans account for fewer inmates in US prisons and jails today than a decade ago, according to new federal statistics.

An estimated 181,500 veterans are incarcerated, including 131,500 in prison and 50,000 in jails, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said in a release this week. That figure is down 9 percent from the 206,500 veterans locked up in 2004.