Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CDCR NEWS

Alex Emslie, KQED News

“I didn’t know that he could ever be touched.”

That’s how 20-year-old Joseph Carranza described his relationship with his father, who is housed at Pelican Bay State Prison.

“This will be my first time actually giving him a hug since like ever, in my whole life,” added Carranza, who until now has only interacted with his dad through a glass wall.

Carranza was with about 60 inmates’ loved ones making a 14-hour bus trip from Los Angeles to Pelican Bay State Prison on California’s northern border on Aug. 26.

CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Austin Walsh, The Daily Journal

Local educators took a field trip to a place where they hope none of their students end up.

Members of the San Mateo County School Boards Association traveled Thursday, Sept. 1, to San Quentin State Prison, where they received an inmate-led tour of the high-security correctional facility.

The focus of the trip was learning techniques from those in the rehabilitation system which could have helped them avoid making poor decisions, in the interest of improving the support services offered to local students.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Dana M. Nichols, Calaveras Enterprise

Three years after a West Point man was shot to death in his home on Stanley Road, the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office has filed a criminal complaint against a man prosecutors say was responsible for the murder.

According to a report filed with the criminal complaint on July 27, Gary McMahan confessed to detectives in August 2013, saying he shot Norman Gresham III, 45, with a revolver during a standoff on July 9, 2013, during which Gresham pointed a rifle at McMahan. According to the declaration, McMahan told deputies that Gresham believed McMahan was trying to “steal” McMahan’s girlfriend, Jessica Elder, 37.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Sasha Khokha, KQED News

A new production of Othello opened this weekend at Northern California’s Marin Shakespeare Company. The lead actor, Dameion Brown, has never appeared on a professional stage before. In fact, just last year, he was paroled after spending 23 years in California state prison. Now he’s tackling one of Shakespeare’s most difficult characters.

Othello is a controversial play, dealing with race, love and violence. In case you need the Cliffs Notes: After he’s convinced that his wife is deceiving him, Othello, a Moorish general, kills his fair-skinned Venetian wife, Desdemona.

I spoke with Dameion Brown at KQED’s studio in San Francisco.

Dameion Brown takes the title role in Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Othello.’
Nate Currier, American Theatre

For more than 25 years, Bob and Lesley Currier have run the Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, Calif. For 13 years, Lesley has done Shakespeare and devised work with inmates at the California state prisons San Quentin and Solano, which culminates in an annual show open to the public. They also happen to by my parents.

As surreal as it is going to prison to see a show, the stranger part is always leaving. You have come in and shared something with these actors. You have enriched each other’s lives, laughed, shook hands, and mingled. And then you walk out, with the knowledge that they cannot and that some of them never will.

Daily Republic

VACAVILLE — William Shakespeare wrote, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”

Growing up in Jackson, Tennessee, Dameion Brown didn’t know what the “stars” held for him. It’s been a life of unexpected challenges for the 48-year-old.

A social justice arts program, “Shakespeare at Solano,” inspired Brown to take control of his destiny. Now, the former inmate of California State Prison, Solano, makes his stage debut portraying the title role in the Marin Shakespeare Company production of “Othello.”

It’s role of a lifetime, which Brown pursued and won.

November ballot measure would parole thousands of California inmates
KCRA 3 News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —A November ballot measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allow earlier parole for thousands of California inmates, but critics say it could result in the very situation that led to public outrage in the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner.

The proposal is aimed at controlling overcrowding in state prisons and reining in costs, and is limited to nonviolent offenders. But in California, "nonviolent" is broadly defined.

Josh Dulaney, Long Beach Press Telegram

A pastor who heads a growing congregation in the Long Beach area says his conviction in a Carson murder case more than two decades ago transformed him into an evangelist for personal redemption.

Brian Warth pastors Chapel of Change, a multiethnic church of 600 people with campuses in Long Beach and Paramount, which started nearly four years ago. He is looking to expand to Whittier next year.

Gary Klien, Marin Independent Journal

Nearly three years after a luxurious hillside mansion in San Rafael went up in flames, many contentious questions remain. But one thing appears to be undisputed: Someone burned the place to ruins and got away with it, thus far.

Authorities have filed no charges in the October 2013 fire at 7 Sea View Drive, despite an extensive investigation by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, fire department inspectors and insurance company specialists. Investigators have released few details about the case, and the final report by the sheriff’s department remains unfinished.

Eric Levitz, The Week Magazine

Earlier this year, Stanford University student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In justifying a sentence far shorter than the six years sought by the prosecution, Judge Aaron Persky cited the "severe impact" and "adverse collateral consequences" a lengthy prison term would have on the young man. To many observers, this extension of compassion toward Turner served to devalue the suffering of his victim, who detailed the "adverse consequences" of his crime in a heartrending letter that was published by BuzzFeed and read by millions.

The ensuing outrage fed a movement to remove Judge Persky from the bench and to eliminate the distinction in California law that allowed Turner to escape a three-year mandatory-minimum sentence for his assault. That movement has proven successful.

Tracy Reyes, INQUISITR

Kim Long, the Corona, California, woman who some say was wrongfully accused of the murder of her boyfriend, Ozzy Conde, 13 years ago, is the latest story to air on Oxygen Network’s Snapped. The hit crime television show tells the stories of females who kill after certain circumstances make them snap.

The case of Kim Long is a bit different from the other stories featured on Snapped since she was recently released from prison. Right now, no one is sure how long her freedom will last if the prosecution takes the case back to trial for the third time. In tonight’s Snapped, detectives who worked the case will give their insight on what happened.

OPINION

Dolores Canales, The Sacramento Bee

It seems like only yesterday I was preparing for a news conference to give a statement on behalf of California Families Against Solitary Confinement announcing a landmark settlement in the case challenging long-term solitary confinement in California prisons, including the one where my son had been held in isolation for 15 years.

We were full of hope. At the same time, we couldn’t help but think of the windowless cells that held our loved ones captive for so many decades and the many family members who had passed away while our sons, brothers, fathers and friends had been locked in Security Housing Units.

Marin Independent Journal

Death row at San Quentin State Prison is supposed to be high-security.

While it’s obvious that state prison officers do their job keeping inmates from escaping, they can’t brag about their success in keeping illegal drugs and contraband from reaching these inmates who are supposedly beyond reach.

We recently published a Los Angeles Times story that reported that despite the tight security, condemned inmates are able to get drugs such as methamphetamines, heroin and more.

The San Francisco Chronicle

Here is some good news for every Californian who cares about young people, public health and an effective criminal justice system: SB1143, a bill that limits the use of isolation punishment in the state’s juvenile justice facilities, has passed both houses of the Legislature.

In many California juvenile facilities, officials use a confinement practice to punish their charges for infractions or control them in the event of unruly behavior. Room confinement is defined in SB1143 as the placement of a youth “in a locked sleeping room or cell with minimal or no contact with persons other than correctional facility staff and attorneys.”

The Bakersfield Californian

Gov. Jerry Brown now says he had regrets almost immediately after he signed a bill nearly four decades ago mandating “determinate” state prison sentences for California’s convicted felons.

It was an era in which politicians in both parties were tripping over themselves to prove they were tough on crime and the young governor was not about to be left out. For the most part, the law eliminated “indeterminate” sentences, where felons might serve only partial sentences if they behave themselves and earn credits. Determinate sentences mandate serving a specific length of incarceration.

As the years passed, and with the enthusiastic support of voters, the list of crimes warranting longer and longer determinate state prison sentences expanded. And numerous enhancements were created, such as for committing a crime with a gun, that add years to determinate sentences. Today, a string of enhancements actually may be longer than the primary crime’s sentence.