Monday, March 14, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips


Kate Bissell, BBC News

In California, six out of 10 inmates will return to prison within three years of being released. But a drama workshop run in prisons by Hollywood actor Tim Robbins appears to cut this recidivism rate in half - by giving prisoners a chance to explore their emotions, and to gain some control over them.

In the Actor's Gang workshop, prisoners put on the clothes and make-up of characters from a type of theatre called commedia dell'arte - such as Pierrot, Harlequin or Columbine - and start improvising.

"We demand the truth from them by asking them to play a character to express extreme emotion, we encourage them to use their imagination," says Tim Robbins.

The Associated Press

CHINO, Calif.- Officials are investigating the beating death of a Southern California state prison inmate as a homicide.

Correctional Lt. Daniel Tristan said Friday that 51-year-old Tony Alston was beaten by another inmate at the California Institution for Men on Feb. 15.
Maria Sestito, Napa Valley Register

A lawsuit filed against a luxury hotel and spa in Yountville by the victim of a 2013 rape is slowly making its way through Napa County Superior Court.

The victim, 38, a resident of Alameda County and referred to as Jane Doe, filed a civil suit against Villagio Inn & Spa and her assailant, Elbrick Pasayes Albizures, in April 2015.

Albizures was a Villagio employee at the time of the incident. Although Albizures said during his criminal trial that the sex was consensual, he was found guilty of rape and sexual penetration and sentenced to three years in prison nearly two years ago.

Sean Longoria, Redding Record Searchlight

The 38-year-old man who allegedly shot and killed his wife Wednesday just outside Redding in 2010 grabbed his then-girlfriend's throat and choked her, according to Shasta County Superior Court records.

That wasn't the first instance of violence in the life of Timothy Baker. His mother, Christine Munro, was killed more than 20 years ago while walking along on the Sacramento River Trail.

Tom Ray, KAJO

A Josephine County judge has sentenced a California prison inmate to more than three years in prison for recent drug and weapons convictions.

According to court records, Circuit Judge Pat Wolke ordered 35-year-old Robert James Strzelecki to serve 40 months with the Oregon Department of Corrections.


The Sacramento Bee

A man who shot an El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputy nine times more than a quarter century ago has been denied parole.

Brian Keith Montgomery, 49, was sentenced to 7 years to life, plus 8 years, for attempted murder of a peace officer. He is incarcerated at California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville.

In the early evening of Dec. 4, 1990, El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff Robert “Jay” Pepper pulled Montgomery over for speeding in the remote community of Somerset, 17 miles south of Placerville.

Erika Mahoney, KION

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. - A convicted rapist will not be released on parole for at least three more years despite his potential eligibility.

Known as the "Pleasure Point Rapist," Kim Forrest Walters was first convicted in Los Angeles County in 1979. Now 60-years-old, he is eligible for release under the new Elderly Parole Program, which took effect in 2014. The program came out of a prison overcrowding class action case. Inmates who are 60 and older and have been behind bars for 25 years or more are eligible for release regardless of whether the sentence served is determinate or indeterminate.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office, with help from a brave victim, worked hard to make sure Walters wasn't released. The victim delivered a powerful statement at the parole hearing at San Quentin State Prison. She also expressed her outrage over the Elderly Parole Program. Walters eventually admitted he was not suitable for parole. Walters and the parole board reached an agreement to delay his next hearing for eligibility in three years.


Criminals Found to Be Re-offending Less Under County Probation than State Parole
Kelsey Brugger, Santa Barbara Independent

With three years of data now available since the state downsized its prison population, Santa Barbara County probation officers reported this week that the recidivism rate has been consistently lower than it was statewide before realignment was enacted in 2011.

The study — which was done with UCSB Gevirtz Graduate School of Education researchers and used data through 2014 — found 68 percent of probationers completed their terms without reoffending; 27 percent were convicted of new charges. What’s more, probation officer Tanja Heitman said, the combination of jail time and supervision and intervention has a greater impact on reducing recidivism than just jail sentences. “Jail alone can actually make the situation worse,” she said.


Rory Appleton, The Fresno Bee

COALINGA- This city founded on the discovery of a petroleum field is looking to strike it rich in a new oil industry. Instead of relying on the black gold pulled from the ground for jobs and economic stability, Coalinga could find future wealth in marijuana by transforming its vacant state prison into a cannabis oil cultivation and manufacturing operation.

Last month, Coalinga Mayor Ron Ramsey and City Manager Marissa Trejo fielded a proposal from Southern California-based Ocean Grown Extracts to turn the 77,000-square-foot Claremont Custody Center into a marijuana growing operation.

The City Council supports the plan, which has numerous economic benefits, but faces a tough battle to convince Coalinga’s 13,000 citizens to become the first community to accept medical marijuana in the conservative central San Joaquin Valley.

Working with the technology provides job skills for inmates, but there’s more to it than that.
Tovin Lapan, The Atlantic

Dressed in traffic-cone orange, a similar shade to the fish under their care, inmates at the San Francisco County Jail set about their weekly duties: checking for pests, pH levels and the overall welfare of the jail’s pilot aquaponics program, the first of its kind in the state.

With guidance from their instructor, who has been schooling them on everything from plant biology to economics, the inmates check on the roughly 80 goldfish swimming in a 400-gallon blue water tank, and the beds growing jalapeƱos, berries, basil, rosemary and other plants.

Tom Jackman, The Washington Post

A California research project tried to do something no one’s ever done: determine the total cost of wrongful convictions. That cost being not just the settlements paid to innocent defendants, but the unnecessary costs of prosecuting and incarcerating them, plus the total legal bills of their criminal trials and appeals.

Beginning the project in 2012 and working backwards to 1989, the study found 692 people who were convicted of felonies in California but whose cases were later dismissed or acquitted on retrial. Those people spent a total of 2,346 years in custody and cost California taxpayers an estimated $282 million when adjusted for inflation, according to the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, which released the study last week.

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — California saved less money than anticipated from the implementation last year of Proposition 47, meaning less state funding for local groups to offer rehabilitative services to inmates kept out of prison under the measure, as well as other programs, state officials said last week.

The Los Angeles City Council last week joined local activists to dispute how state officials are calculating the savings, after Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal included $29.3 million of Proposition 47-related savings to be spent on preventative and rehabilitative services in the upcoming fiscal year.

Brown’s allocation, based on calculations by the Department of Finance, is much lower than the $100 million to $200 million the Legislative Analyst’s Office said would be saved.


The San Francisco Chronicle

NOTE: This piece includes out-of-date recidivism information. The Chronicle has been informed that the current recidivism rate in 54.3 percent.

California is at the forefront of a national movement to reduce mass incarceration and its adverse effects on families, communities and the public purse. After decades of being tough on crime, the state is shifting toward a philosophy that emphasizes crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation. It’s a major change for California in every way — financially, socially and morally.

If the state gets it right, then California could transform criminal justice policy for the entire country.

We’re only at the very beginning of this enormous change, which began because of forces outside of California’s control. In August 2009, a panel of three federal judges declared California’s prison overcrowding problem to be so severe that it was providing prisoners with an unconstitutional standard of health care. The court procedures that followed forced California to reduce the enormous number of prisoners held in the state prison system.

Dan Walters, The Sacramento Bee

NOTE: The author has been informed that the correct annual cost per inmate is $63,848.

Americans of a certain age may remember the term “peace dividend.”

It was uttered after the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s and the Cold War ended in the early 1990s – referring to an anticipated decrease in military spending.

Something of a “peace dividend” was promised – or at least assumed – when California, acceding to federal court pressure, sharply reduced its prison population.

The Press-Enterprise

Where’s the budget savings from Proposition 47? It’s a question voters are asking about the 2014 initiative, which reduced felony and misdemeanor penalties for many nonviolent and nonserious drug and property crimes. The voter pamphlet language that sold the initiative promised, “This measure will save significant state corrections dollars on an annual basis. Preliminary estimates range from $150 million to $250 million per year.”

But in his January budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17, which begins July 1, Gov. Jerry Brown penciled in just $29.3 million in savings. A month ago, however, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a study that concluded, “We find that the administration likely underestimates the savings and overestimates the costs resulting from” Prop. 47.