Thursday, September 29, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

REALIGNMENT

Marisa Lagos, KQED

When prisons chief Matt Cate was called in to meet Governor-elect Jerry Brown at the end of 2010, and was told about the governor’s plan to reduce the state prison population, he was skeptical.

“My first impression honestly was, ‘I understand why we need to do something big with the prison population and with the budget, but this seems too big to me,’ ” Cate recalled recently, adding that he warned the governor that Brown would be blamed if someone got out of jail or prison and hurt someone. “I remember meeting with the governor and saying … it’s a big risk politically. I wanted to make sure he understood it.”

At the time, California was facing a huge budget deficit and was under a federal court order to cut its prison population by 30,000 inmates. Brown’s plan, dubbed “realignment” because it sought to shift criminal justice responsibilities from the state to county governments, was the governor’s attempt to comply with the court order without simply opening up the doors of state prisons and letting inmates walk free.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Weigh the risks and rewards of employing ex-offenders.
Mark Feffer, SHRM

Davon Miller was studying computer engineering at National College in Charlottesville, Va., when he was convicted of distributing cocaine and unlawfully possessing a firearm. "I was trying to work my way through college, but there weren’t any jobs," Miller recalls. "In my community, it was easier to make a living with guns and drugs than to find work." He served two years in prison for his crimes.

Following his release in 2009, Miller was ready to start over, particularly after learning what his conviction might have cost him: 45 years behind bars. "That was the wake-up call for me," he said. "I’m not built for that kind of life."

After six months of job-hunting, he took a position at a local Burger King. Three years later, he landed a job as a cook in an Italian restaurant. The open kitchen environment helped him showcase to his managers how hard he worked to turn out timely orders, keep his station organized and lead other team members.

Jeremy B. White and Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee

Rape victims will be able to seek criminal charges at any time in California, with Gov. Jerry Brown signing legislation Wednesday that had prompted alleged victims of embattled entertainer Bill Cosby to testify at the Capitol.

In signing Senate Bill 813, Brown sided with supporters of the measure who say the pursuit of justice requires allowing rape cases to be prosecuted no matter how many years have elapsed. The bill drew support from law enforcement groups and passed the Legislature without a dissenting vote.

“Rapists should never be able to evade legal consequences simply because an arbitrary time limit has expired,” Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said in a statement. “There must never be an expiration date on justice!”

Lake County News

A new bill signed this week will make it easier for the wrongfully convicted in California to prove their innocence and be released from prison.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1134 into law.

This bill, authored by Democratic Senator Mark Leno and Republican Senator Joel Anderson, makes it easier for wrongfully convicted people in California to use new evidence to prove their innocence.

Supporters of the legislation say that, for far too long, Californians convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit have struggled, and most often failed, to prove their innocence because the standard of proof, “points unerringly to innocence,” was so hard to meet.

Inland News Today

SAN FRANCISCO – (INT) - California has reduced the number of offenders incarcerated in the state without broadly increasing crime rates. But so far, the state’s historic reforms have not lowered California’s high recidivism rates or corrections spending.

That’s the upshot of a study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

October marks the five-year anniversary of public safety realignment, the major reform that shifted responsibility for lower-level felons from the state prison and parole systems to county jail and probation systems.

Seth Hemmelgarn, The Bay Area Reporter

Voters this November will be asked to weigh in on a measure that could impact the sentences of many California prisoners and make changes in the juvenile justice system.

Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, would make eligible nonviolent offenders in state prison to be considered for parole after completing the first term for their primary offense.

Dan Newman, a spokesman for the Yes on Prop 57 campaign, said the measure would "focus resources in a common sense, intelligent way that keeps people safe and invests in rehabilitation so you can both keep dangerous criminals locked up" and "give nonviolent offenders incentives to turn their lives around, so when they reenter society, they are tax-paying, law-abiding, productive members of society."

OPINION

The Los Angeles Times

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the murder of 168 people in 1997. He was executed less than four years later. McVeigh was not railroaded; his claims were fully considered. His case was reviewed on appeal by the federal court of appeals, again by the federal district court on post conviction review, and again by both of those courts on his motions for stay of execution. Capital cases do not get any more complex than his, and yet it didn't take decades to conduct a thorough and fair review and carry out his sentence.

Contrast this with the case of Harold Memro in California.He was convicted in 1987 of murdering three boys. The first two reviews of his case, which are standard in capital cases, took until 1995. That was bad enough, but nine years later his lawyers dumped on the California Supreme Court yet another massive petition, 521 pages long with 143 claims. The court eventually denied all the claims, finding them without merit and most of them patently so. It held that the petition “exemplifies abusive writ practices” that are all too common in California. The tactic bought Memro years of delay on his sentence, which still has not been carried out.

Lisa Green, Bakersfield.com

The Bakersfield Californian recently recommended an affirmative vote on Proposition 57. Although The Californian was misled by the title of the proposition, the “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016,” the voters of Kern County should not be similarly misled.

Prop. 57 will release thousands of dangerous, violent criminals into our community. Recently, Richard Beene of The Californian wrote that there were 17 initiatives on the November ballot and urged voters to be informed when they cast their votes on Nov. 8. I couldn’t agree more. I urge voters to do the same and vote no on Prop. 57.