Friday, October 21, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

DEATH PENALTY

Dana Littlefield, The San Diego Union Tribune

Juan Melendez repeats the numbers often: 17 years, eight months, one day.

That’s how long he spent on Florida’s death row, having been convicted of a killing he did not commit.

Since he was released in 2002, he’s been sharing his experience with all who will listen and consider his message — that the death penalty should be done away with.

That’s why Melendez, 65, was in San Diego on Thursday, to tell his story to 25 law students, lawyers and professors at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law — and to urge California voters to repeal the death penalty in the Nov. 8 election.

OPINION

Debra J. Saunders, The San Francisco Chronicle

Sponsors say Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, will save taxpayers money by making nonviolent felons eligible for parole earlier and improve fairness by having judges, not prosecutors, decide whether juveniles are tried as adults. Critics call it a “Get Out of Jail Early” card. I would add it’s the sort of dishonest measure that becomes commonplace under unaccountable one-party rule. State pols gamed the system to get it on the ballot. The title promises public safety when it could result in the early release of repeat offenders. Yet California voters are likely to approve Prop. 57 because they don’t know what the measure really does.

Proposition 57 originally was submitted as a measure to let judges decide if juveniles are tried as adults. Later, sponsors changed its focus to expand adult parole. In Sacramento, when you gut a bill and replace it with something else, it’s called “gut and amend.”

Brian Gurwitz, The OC Register

As an Orange County prosecutor for 13 years, I actively fought at the state level for laws that increase criminal sentences. I believed that prosecutors – and not judges – should be given the power to decide whether children who commit serious crimes should be tried as adults.

As a lawyer who now practices criminal defense, I have now seen the result of mass incarceration from the other side. Our state’s experiment has failed. And Proposition 57 is a modest step toward rectifying our errors.

The Daily California

Jails are overcrowded, underfunded and taking up too much of the state’s money. Now’s our chance to fix that.

Proposition 57 would increase the opportunity of parole for nonviolent offenders in California prisons. It would also remove the decision of whether to prosecute a minor in juvenile or regular court from prosecutors’ hands and rightfully place it in the hands of a judge. How is that not common sense?

KPBS

A statewide survey released Wednesday found almost all of California’s 17 ballot measures are on track to pass next month, with the proposition to end the death penalty in California the only measure to have significant opposition.

The poll from Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research and its CALSPEAKS public-opinion project asked Californians about 14 ballot measures. A sample of 622 likely voters favored Proposition 67, the statewide plastic bag ban, 45-39, which was within the poll’s seven point margin of error, and opposed Proposition 62, which would end the death penalty in the state, 45-37. All other propositions in the poll had comfortable support.

B. Wayne Hughes, JR., The OC Register

Centinela State Prison, located in Imperial County, California, is a place where roughly 3,500 male inmates are housed. In June 2016, Serving California (a foundation that helps ex-offenders, crime victims and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD), approached the Mighty Oaks Foundation about taking their Fight Club program – a curriculum designed for veterans suffering from PTSD or other disorders – into a California state prison to see if that program could transform the hearts of inmates. The program is Biblically-based, with an emphasis on a personal relationship with God.

The warden at Centinela State Prison, Raymond Madden, asked that the first program take place in the maximum security yard. These men had one thing in common – they had committed serious crimes. Most are serving life sentences and are active members of prison gangs, or had spent years in solitary confinement. Twenty-seven men from the Level IV maximum security unit participated in the three-day event.