Thursday, November 3, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

DEATH PENALTY

Paige St. John and Maloy Moore, The Los Angeles Times

That's the question facing Californians at the voting booth. A yes vote on Proposition 62 would end the death penalty and change sentences to life without parole. A yes vote on Proposition 66 would speed up the legal process leading to an execution. The state hasn't executed a prisoner in a decade. Thirteen men have been put to death since the death penalty was restored here in 1978.

Here's a look at the 728 men and 21 women currently on death row. Click on the photos to learn more about the crimes that put them there.

Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

Note: The reporter was informed that CDCR had not yet completed its rulemaking activities for the proposed lethal injection regulations. CDCR has asked the LA Times for a correction.

In a February 2006 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel found California’s lethal injection protocols could cause excessive pain, raising constitutional issues that ultimately halted the execution of an inmate only an hour before his scheduled death.

Ten years later, the death penalty system remains on pause, as the state has sought to develop a new method for killing prisoners amid mounting legal challenges and national outcry over botched executions. The fate of its latest proposal for new execution protocols now hangs on what happens at the ballot box.

Under current law, all state agencies, including the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, must follow the state’s Administrative Procedure Act when establishing new regulations, which ensures they meet public notice and hearing requirements.

"They are better off, in a sense, being sentenced to death."
Brandon Ellington Patterson, Mother Jones

On Election Day, California voters will choose between two competing ballot measures: Proposition 62, which would abolish the death penalty in the state, and Prop. 66, which would speed up the execution process. If both pass, the one with the most votes will supersede the other. If neither passes, California's death penalty system will remain unchanged.

A recent poll indicates that Prop. 66 is on track to be approved, but Prop. 62 is facing some stiff opposition—including from some death row inmates.

CALIFORNIA INMATES

Matthew S. Bajko, The Bay Area Reporter

For nearly 30 years Randy Kraft has sat on California's death row attempting to clear his name. A gay man given the nicknames "the Scorecard Killer" and "the Freeway Killer," Kraft has been described as one of the "deadliest and most depraved serial killers" in the state's history.

In May 1989 a jury convicted him of killing 16 men over the course of 11 years in southern California and, that November, recommended the death penalty. Prosecutors had also tied him to the deaths of eight additional men in Oregon and Michigan.

CALIFORNIA PAROLE

Seth Hemmelgarn, The Bay Area Reporter

Parole has been granted for one of the men who murdered transgender teenager Gwen Araujo in 2002, while parole for another one of Araujo's killers has been denied.

The state Board of Parole Hearings granted parole for Jose Antonio Merel, 36, after a hearing last month at Soledad State Prison. The board denied parole for Michael William Magidson, 36. Magidson is being held at Valley State Prison.

Araujo, 17, was killed in October 2002 at a house party in the East Bay city of Newark, California. Two men at the party had reportedly had sex with the young woman they'd known as Lida, and they murdered her after their suspicions that she was biologically male were confirmed. The men then drove Araujo's body to a grave in the Sierra foothills.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Gabrielle Karol, KXTV

California is in the process of figuring out how to reduce overcrowding at its prisons following an order from the United States Supreme Court in 2011.

Proposition 57 – the Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative – is part of that effort, but like many propositions, it’s not without controversy.

Many of the state’s district attorneys, law enforcement officers’ associations and victims’ groups say Prop. 57 could grant earlier releases to many criminals that most Californians would consider violent. Notably, kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard has come out against Prop. 57, writing on her Facebook, "Other survivors like me should not have to worry when and if their rapist and/or their captor will get out.”

Minerva Canto, Bakersfield.com

The scene that greeted Raymond Aguilar in his old Stockton neighborhood on his release from prison four months ago was too familiar: boarded-up windows, liquor stores, prostitutes and gang members walking the streets. Twenty-five years had passed since his conviction for second-degree murder, and nothing had changed.

He was 16 when he shot dead a man he says robbed his grandmother. San Joaquin County prosecutors filed Aguilar’s case in adult court, and he was transferred from a juvenile detention facility to state prison after his conviction at age 17.

OPINION

Marcos Breton, The Tribune

After 30 years as a journalist in California, I’ve come to believe that my industry can unintentionally distort the public’s understanding of the death penalty.

I’m not referring to political distortions rife in the state’s initiative process as voters consider two death penalty measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. (A yes on Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty; a yes on Proposition 66 would keep it and speed the appeals process and the time it takes to execute inmates).

No, I’m referring to distortion by omission in many media accounts of death penalty cases. As journalists, we often won’t describe the most gruesome details because they can violate the rules of decent public discourse.

LA Progressive

In 2010, my son was 17 years old and about to begin his senior year in high school. He was a funny kid with lots of friends and a big heart. Like many teenagers, he had big dreams—he wanted to be a professional athlete or a sports agent. When I thought about what the future held in store for him, I felt excited.

My son was a teenager and he made mistakes—mistakes that resulted in far reaching consequences he did not have the foresight at the time to predict.

He was arrested for being the “wheel-man” in two armed robberies. I remember feeling terrified thinking about what could happen to him. I hoped the system would recognize that despite his bad decisions he was still a kid with a lot of potential and could move forward on a path towards success if given the right support.

Robin Sax, Jewish Journal

Rapists, human traffickers, pedophiles, spouse beaters, hostage takers, arsonists and those who commit hate crimes would be realigned, redefined and released if Proposition 57 passes. Although its name uses the words “public safety,” Prop. 57 has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with redefining crime and parole. Crimes that are currently classified as violent crimes would no longer be classified as such and those violent criminals could be released.

Here are some examples. The gangbanger who fired a weapon from his car (known as a drive-by shooting) no longer would be classified as violent. The person who gave his college friend too many drinks and raped her while she was drunk (known as rape of an intoxicated person), no longer classified as violent. The person who beat up a gay person causing them serious injuries (known as a hate crime causing injury), no longer classified as violent. An adult touching the private parts of a child (known as lewd act on a minor), no longer considered violent.

Kevin D. Sawyer, San Quentin News

For decades California has led the nation with tough-on-crime legislation like its draconian Three Strikes law. Women and men in the Golden State have been sentenced to indeterminate 25-to-life sentences for an array of trifling crimes such as drug possession and shoplifting; part of a war primarily directed against black and brown people.

The war’s inception was ushered in with President Richard Nixon and maintained through President Ronald Reagan’s administration. It’s what attorney, civil-rights advocate and author Michelle Alexander noted as escalating to a “nearly genocidal” level, and I’ve been ensnared in it for 20 years.

Prateek Puri, Daily Bruin

Two propositions regarding the death penalty will appear on Tuesday’s statewide ballot – one which aims to repeal the death penalty and another that seeks to speed up the execution process.

Voting yes on Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty in California, making life imprisonment without parole the most serious punishment for criminals. Current death row inmates would be resentenced to life in prison.

Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

This undated still from video provided by the No On Proposition 53 campaign shows Gov. Jerry Brown in one of a series of new television commercials to defeat the ballot measure that threatens two of his so-called legacy projects.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants voters to change the way California inmates serve their time behind bars. He argues the state’s current system does little to rehabilitate convicts before sending them back to the streets.