Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips


CALIFORNIA INMATES

Doug Saunders, The Sun

SAN BERNARDINO >> Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a man already on death row with the 1991 murder of Devore resident Cynthia “CJ” White.

On May, 27, 1991, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a reported death at a home in the 18000 block of Santa Fe Avenue.

They found White strangled to death inside the home.

All leads were exhausted, and by 1993 her case went cold.

Annie Brown, California Sunday

Most days, Rauch sits cross-legged in the same spot on the prison yard, what’s known as “hippie row.” From there, he draws and paints, holding pencils not in use between his toes. With a wispy beard and dreadlocks, Rauch — pronounced “Roach” —  has been described by prisoners as “Black Johnny Depp” and “the original Jesus.” But Rauch is also San Quentin’s unofficial veterinarian. He’s cared for injured finches, a paraplegic vole, and a black widow. He constructs habitats for them made of stacked Folgers cans and dirt in the corner of his cell. At least once, Rauch propped a tired bee on the back of his hand and fed it icing from a honey bun he bought at the canteen.

On a recent afternoon, in a concrete building inside the prison, three radio producers gathered around Rauch. One of them asked, “Rauch, have you ever cried when a critter died?”

“Uh, yeah,” he said, counting on his fingers. “A gopher, a mouse. The last gopher that died, I put him in the trash because I couldn’t dig. But I wrapped him up real tight with tape, so I knew that nothing could get on him. It’s like having a loved one die.”

DEATH PENALTY

Scott Shafer, KQED

Supporters and opponents of California’s capital punishment law agree on one thing: The death penalty system isn’t working. The November ballot offers voters two completely different solutions.

As part of our California Counts election collaboration, KQED’s Scott Shafer examines one of those options, Proposition 62, which would ban the death penalty.

In 2005, Dionne Wilson was desperate for revenge. Her husband, Dan Niemi, a San Leandro cop, was shot seven times and killed in an ambush while answering a public disturbance call. The killer was on probation and desperate to avoid going back to prison for having guns and drugs in his possession.

Scott Shafer, KQED

In 2005, Dionne Wilson was desperate for revenge. Her husband, Dan Niemi, a San Leandro cop, was shot seven times and killed in an ambush while answering a public disturbance call. The killer was on probation and desperate to avoid going back to prison for having guns and drugs in his possession.

The Alameda County district attorney asked the jury to return a death sentence for the killer, Irving Ramirez. And Wilson wanted it, too.

“I begged for it,” Wilson remembers. “I told them they had to. They have to give me this justice for my children and for my family.”

Wilson got her wish. Ramirez was sentenced to death. But it didn’t have the effect she hoped for.

Scott Shafer, KQED

Kate and Richard Riggins’ son, John, was murdered along with his girlfriend, Sabrina Gonsalves, in 1980. At the time, John was a freshman attending the University of California  at Davis.

“They were kidnapped and left in a ditch to die with their throats slit,” says Kate Riggins. The case was unsolved for decades, until a DNA hit led cold case investigators to Richard Hirschfield, who was serving time in a Washington State prison for child molestation.

In 2013, Hirschfield was sentenced to death by a Sacramento jury, 33 years after what became known as “the Sweetheart Murders.” Hirschfield is currently one of nearly 750 people on California’s death row.
‘I’m not too concerned about it because I really don’t think that I’m going to be killed,’Richard Hirschfield

CORRECTIONS RELATED

John Myers, The Los Angeles Times

Tom Steyer, whose political activism on national and state Democratic causes continues to expand beyond environmental issues, on Tuesday endorsed Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot measure to revamp prison parole rules.

"Proposition 57 is a common sense measure that will reduce the burden on California taxpayers and will implement proven methods of rehabilitation that reduce the likelihood of reoffending," Steyer said in a written statement.

Prop. 57 would allow some prisoners serving time for a nonviolent crime to be considered for early release, expanding their ability to earn credits for good behavior and educational programs. Critics, led by the California District Attorneys Assn., argue that some of those who would be eligible for parole are not nonviolent felons.

Christopher Cadelago, The Sacramento Bee

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, on the eve of her debate with fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, joined law enforcement officials Tuesday in sharply criticizing a fall initiative backed by Gov. Jerry Brown to make certain prison inmates eligible for early parole.

Sanchez, in denouncing Proposition 57 as “irresponsible,” “misleading” and “dangerous,” is bucking her own party’s establishment that is solidly behind Harris. The early parole initiative, backed by Brown and the California Democratic Party, would apply to felons who committed crimes considered nonviolent under state law.

OPINION

The Los Angeles Times

To the editor: In Kent S. Scheidegger’s view, the only problem with the death penalty in California is that it has been sabotaged by lawyers, thereby delaying executions endlessly. (“A better death penalty for California,” Opinion, Sept. 29)

The fact that the death penalty is proved to be racially and economically biased is not a problem. The fact that it is more likely that an innocent person with an incompetent lawyer will be sentenced to death than a rich guilty person is not a problem. The fact that the same crime will be punished differently depending on in which county in California the crime is committed is not a problem. The fact that the death penalty costs significantly more money than keeping someone in prison for life is not a problem.