Thursday, January 28, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips


Correctional News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown announced a plan, titled “The Future of California Corrections,” that detailed how the state government was going to change the state’s prison system. Not only did the plan meet a court mandate to reduce prison overcrowding, but it said it would help improve criminal sentencing and save billions of dollars.

Four years later, the state has reduced its population by 30,000 inmates and is one of the country’s leaders in prison reform; however, the costs of housing inmates has actually risen instead of decreased, reported Reuters. The cost of housing, feeding and caring for an inmate in California is now $64,000 annually, compared to $49,000 five years ago.

Highlights from Governor Brown’s proposed 2016-17 budget
Tom Gogola, Pacific Sun

Criminal Justice Reform

Brown’s budget summary notably highlights a budget item for the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Center that would send $1.5 million in 2016-17 (on top of $500,000 in 2015-16) to Sonoma to provide the county lockup with 10 “jail-based competency treatment beds,” through a contract with the Department of State Hospitals. There are 148 such beds already in use around the state; they are used to help rehabilitate inmates to a point where they are competent to stand trial. The push for competency beds comes as Sonoma moves forward on plans to build a new facility dedicated to special-needs prisoners after securing $40 million in state money late last year.

Brown’s budget also responds to two recent lawsuits brought against the state that address broader issues around criminal justice reform. Under his plan, the state will spend $9.3 million to comply with the ruling in Sassman v. Brown, “which requires the state to expand the existing female Alternative Custody Program to males.” Under this program, inmates serve out the last year or two of their terms in home detention or a residential facility. This bill could prove a boon for private providers of electronic monitoring services, given the expanded pool of inmates. “It is unclear how many males will ultimately qualify for an alternative placement,” Brown notes in his budget summary. “Consequently, future budget adjustments may be necessary to capture the full impact of this program expansion.”


John Myers, The Los Angeles Times

Almost four decades after he signed a law mandating strict sentences for the most serious crimes, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday moved to ease its effect, proposing inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses be given a chance at early release.

“Let's take the basic structure of our criminal law and say, when you've served fully the primary sentence, you can be considered for parole,” Brown said in announcing a November ballot initiative to streamline the rules — one he estimated could affect thousands of current inmates.

Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to revamp California's criminal sentencing laws could have unintended consequences, skeptics said, even as it takes the next step in meeting a federal requirement for the state to reduce its prison population.

The Democratic governor on Wednesday proposed a November ballot measure that would free certain felons earlier and have fewer juveniles tried as adults.

It would increase sentencing credits for inmates who complete rehabilitation programs; allow non-violent felons to seek parole after they have completed their base sentences; and require judges instead of prosecutors to decide if juveniles as young as 14 should be tried in adult court.

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The California Senate has voted to outlaw compassionate release from prison for people convicted of killing police officers.

The Senate’s 35-1 vote on Wednesday sends the measure to the Assembly.

California allows for the release of some dying inmates who are deemed not to pose a threat to public safety. The program is supposed to save the state money on expensive end-of-life care.


Krista Almanzan, NPR

Veterans serving time behind bars are still entitled to some — but not all — of the benefits earned through military service. Wednesday, we told you the story of the struggle one former inmate faced trying to inform the Department of Veterans Affairs about his incarceration. Today, we look at a one-of-a kind inmate-run program trying to help other incarcerated veterans work and communicate with the VA to get their benefits.

Jerry Lytle never collected the benefits he earned from service in the Army, and once he was behind bars, he didn't realize he still could.

Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

Q: There was a young woman named Terah Lawyer. She and her boyfriend were arrested for murder in 2000-2002. What happened to the case?

Anthony, Sacramento

A: Terah Jeanita Lawyer and Rufus Harty Kelsaw were convicted of murder and kidnapping in the April 2002 death of Miangelo Cordero, whose body was found by the railroad tracks near the Costco parking lot on Exposition Boulevard in Sacramento.