Monday, January 4, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

OC Register

SACRAMENTO, California — Inspectors have given a passing grade to the medical care at a Central Valley state prison.

California's inspector general reported Thursday that adequate care is provided at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano.

It's the fifth prison to receive an adequate grade since the inspections started this year.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Marcos Martinez and Alison Vayne, KQED

James Houston got out of prison three years ago after serving 18 years for second-degree murder. This month he returned to San Quentin State Prison — as a guest.

Houston was back at the prison to try to convince Silicon Valley venture capitalists to invest in an after-school program he designed called Teen Tech Hub, which aims to teach technology skills to youths in Richmond.

Houston presented his project with still-incarcerated inmates during Demo Day, an event for inmates to present their tech projects to venture capitalists.

Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee

A woman assaulted when she was 4 1/2 months pregnant wanted so badly to sit in judgment of Modesto’s Scott Peterson a little more than three years later that she lied before being picked as a juror, then helped send him to death row in 2004, Peterson’s latest appeal says.

The 285-page document, filed Nov. 24, also heaps blame on Peterson’s celebrity defense attorney, Mark Geragos, for lapses in the sensational trial, including failing to fulfill promises to jurors that he would prove Peterson “stone cold innocent” or to call witnesses who might have debunked prosecution evidence, the appeal says.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Guy Mccarthy, The Union Democrat       

A Sonora man, one of two defendants imprisoned for shooting a woman and leaving her for dead in a walk-in refrigerator during a robbery at a chicken restaurant at The Junction shopping center in East Sonora in 1989, may not be allowed to walk free on parole after all.

Gary Edward White, 47, was found suitable for parole in August. Any decision to grant parole in California is subject to review for 120 days and, in this case, the state’s executive board of parole hearings, which includes governor’s staff, has decided to schedule a revocation hearing.

DEATH PENALTY

Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press 

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (AP) — With executions on hold in California and a death penalty appeals process that can take years, many inmates on the nation's largest death row say they spend little time worrying about the lethal injection that may one day kill them.

"It's almost like it's not even a real punishment for a lot of people," said Charles Crawford at San Quentin State Prison, where the vast majority of the state's nearly 750 condemned inmates are held.

Al Jazeera America

Reuters photographer Stephen Lam gets a rare look at the life of the condemned inside San Quentin.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Marisa Lagos, KQED

It’s been a dramatic few years for California’s criminal justice system — voters and lawmakers have approved a slew of changes since 2011, including measures that softened the state’s harsh three strikes law and shrunk penalties for nonviolent crimes.

Now, advocates pushing those types of reforms are hoping that recent comments by Gov. Jerry Brown have opened the door to even more sweeping changes. They’re optimistic that state leaders may be willing to rethink California’s entire criminal sentencing structure, which last underwent an overhaul when Brown was in the statehouse three decades ago.

Jim Holt, Signal SCV

There was no better year to be a criminal than 2015.

It was first full year that Proposition 47 was in effect in California. The voter-approved measure reclassified about two dozen felonies as misdemeanors.

A criminal nabbed in 2014 for possessing a controlled substance — say the heroin-like opiate hydrocodine — would go to court on a felony charge. The same arrest in 2015 would send him to court on a misdemeanor.

Champion Newspapers

A California Department of Corrections officer was treated for a gunshot wound to her hip Wednesday at the shooting range at California Institution for Men in Chino.

“Her weapon discharged while she was trying to holster it,” said Chino Valley Fire District spokeswoman Massiel Ladron De Guevara.

Paramedics were called to the shooting range near Central Avenue and El Prado Road at 11:06 a.m. on a report of an accidental shooting.

Paige St. John, The Los Angeles Times

Rick Cluchey was in his third year of a life sentence without parole for the carjacking and armed robbery of a Los Angeles hotel courier when actors came to San Quentin State Prison in 1957 to perform “Waiting for Godot.” The existential play struck a nerve, and inspired the creation of a drama workshop at San Quentin.

For Cluchey, a pugilistic convict considered too great a risk to even attend the play, it changed his life. He listened from his cell to the lines over the public address system. His cellmate returned from the performance struck in particular by one

Gayle Thompson, The Boot

Fifty-seven years ago today, on Jan. 1, 1959, Johnny Cash kicked off the new year on a high note. It was on this day that the singer performed at the famous San Quentin State Prison in California, beginning a series of concerts held at various prisons throughout the rest of his career.

Cash, who was arrested several times but never sentenced to prison, performed the concert out of the kindness of his heart and a feeling compassion for those who had made bad choices, as he once had. During his New Year’s Day show, Merle Haggard, who was serving time for burglary, was in the audience; in fact, Haggard credits the concert with turning his life around.

OPINION

The Sacramento Bee

A new year means ramping up work on a new state budget. And this year’s proposed budget – due out any day now from Gov. Jerry Brown – is an opportunity for lawmakers to use the state’s improving finances as a foundation for boosting investment in public services that are crucial to strong communities and widely shared economic growth.

Of course, a good state budget is one that works to promote long-term fiscal stability. But we also must ensure that California is making severely needed investments in reducing poverty and promoting economic security, improving educational and health outcomes, and increasing public safety.