Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

DEATH PENALTY

Josh Sanburn, Time

The future of the death penalty will be on the ballot in three states Tuesday, potentially affecting more than one-quarter of the nation’s death-row inmates.
California, Nebraska and Oklahoma will vote on four capital-punishment ballot measures at a time when support for the death penalty nationwide is at all-time lows.

Just 49% of Americans say they support capital punishment, the lowest figure in four decades, while 42% oppose it, according to the Pew Research Center. Support has fallen 7 percentage points in the last year and a half following a series of botched executions and a Supreme Court case challenging execution-drug combinations in Oklahoma. The number of executions, meanwhile, have hit their lowest levels in two decades thanks to drug shortages and lengthy death-row appeals processes.

Paige Austin, Pacific Palisades Patch

As California voters cast their ballots Tuesday, the polls show the state’s two competing death penalty measures too close to predict the outcome.

Proposition 62 would abolish the death penalty in California, automatically converting sentences for death row inmates to life without the possibility of parole. And Proposition 66, conversely, reforms the death penalty to speed up the rate of executions and reduce the taxpayer cost for condemned inmates’ appeals and housing.


CORRECTIONS RELATED

Don Thompson, Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown is asking voters to change California's sentencing laws in Tuesday's election by giving corrections officials more say in when criminals are released and stripping prosecutors of the power to decide when juveniles should be tried as adults.

Proposition 57 would restore balance to a legal code that has become overburdened with get-tough policies, the Democratic governor said.

Law enforcement officials object that the initiative gives bureaucrats too much power to overrule judges.

George Lavender, KCRW

MarĂ­a Luisa Borrego has a photo of her son on her phone. It shows a young man with a small beard and glasses wearing a blue prison uniform. “Handsome” is how she describes him, laughing, “What can I say, he’s my son.” Borrego’s son, Steven Menendez, is 20 years old but she says he looks much younger than the other prisoners around him. “He still has that baby face” she says.

Menendez is serving a sentence of 50 years to life in prison for a murder committed when he was 14 years old. Instead of being tried as a minor, the District Attorney in his case decided to file his case as an adult, a process known as “direct file” meaning he could receive a much longer prison sentence.

George Lavender, KCRW

George Lavender reports for KCRW on Proposition 57. The measure could affect tens of thousands of inmates here in California. It would give some “non-violent” prisoners the chance to apply for parole earlier than they otherwise would. And it gives others the opportunity to earn time off their sentences by completing classes.

Dylan Tull, Peninsula Press

Californians will decide Nov. 8 if only judges — instead of prosecutors — will determine whether youth should be tried as adults or minors, a change that proponents say would help resolve racial inequities in sentencing.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the overcrowding in California’s prisons was cruel and unusual punishment. As a result, the court ordered California to keep prison populations below 137.5 percent maximum capacity. Proposition 57 is the latest reform aimed at addressing the problem.

David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight

With Proposition 57 ahead in the polls on the eve of the election, local law enforcement officials staged a last-minute effort Monday afternoon to discredit a measure they believe if passed will make the streets less safe.

"Forty percent of the voters in California have still not cast a ballot or turned their vote-by-mail ballot in," Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said. "That's why we thought it was important to get that last-minute message out."

Sandy Wells, KABC

The passage of Prop 57 will endanger the public by re-classifying certain crimes as nonviolent in order to expedite the release of prisoners and reduce prison crowding. This view is widely shared by California’s law enforcement community. Marc Klaas has joined the opposition. He started the KlaasKids Foundation after his daughter Polly was brutally murdered in 1993. He says the prison overcrowding is no longer a justification for releasing anyone serving time.

Rikha Sharma Rani, Politico

Eduardo Cordero, 19, has spent most of the last five years in either juvenile hall or prison for gang-related felonies. Now that he’s out, he’ll be able to vote for the first time ever on November 8th. “I feel like I have some power and I have some voice,” he says. “I feel like my voice does count.” Cordero plans to cast his ballot for Hillary Clinton.

When it comes to voting rights, Cordero is one of the lucky ones. While California revokes the franchise for those in prison and on parole, the state allows people with felony convictions to vote while under county probation supervision and afterwards. But a dozen states—including Florida, Arizona and Nevada—restrict voting even after prison, parole or probation are completed. In these states, people like Cordero, once convicted, may face a waiting period of several years before being able to vote again or, in certain instances, are banned from voting indefinitely.

Nate Gartrell, San Jose Mercury News

 Darnell Washington has stayed silent for months during his trial and conviction in the brutal 2012 murder of retired Hercules kindergarten teacher and mother of four Susie Ko, who was beaten and stabbed with a knife and the barrel of a shotgun.

But that changed Monday, when Washington, 28, took the stand during the penalty phase of his trial. A jury is tasked with deciding whether Washington should be sentenced to death.