Thursday, December 15, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips

CDCR NEWS

Matt Fountain, The Tribune

One of California’s few death row inmates to have committed their crime in San Luis Obispo County has died in custody near San Quentin State Prison.

Dennis Duane Webb died at 6:14 p.m. Tuesday at a hospital near the maximum-security prison. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy. He was 65.
Dennis Webb California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Webb had been on death row since August 1988, when he was sentenced to death by a San Luis Obispo County jury for the Feb. 5, 1987, burglary and first-degree murders of John Rainwater, 25, and Lori Rainwater, 22, of Atascadero. Their newborn and toddler were found alive at the murder scene.

Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A man released in February after serving 18 years in state prison for a crime he didn't commit has died.

Luther Ed Jones Jr., 71, died early on the morning of Dec. 6, according to his attorney, Angela Carter.

Jones was freed in February at the order of Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum after evidence was brought forward by District Attorney Don Anderson that exonerated Jones, who had been convicted in 1998 of molesting his ex-girlfriend's 10-year-old daughter, as Lake County News has reported.


DEATH PENALTY

With Prop. 62’s defeat, Brown’s longstanding anti-death penalty stance may shift
Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento News & Review

Although he has served as governor longer than anyone else in California history, Jerry Brown has never been forced to make one of the weightiest decisions governors face: whether to spare a convicted criminal from execution.

California has executed more than 500 people, but the death penalty has been on hold pending legal challenges during both of Brown’s two-term stints as governor. It’s been a politically convenient coincidence for the Democrat who rose to prominence as an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, even as California voters repeatedly demonstrated support for it.

CORRECTIONS RELATED

Proposition 47 reduced nearly 200,000 felonies to misdemeanors. Every downgraded conviction brings former felons closer better jobs and better lives
Jenny Espino , Amy Wu , Cheri Carlson and Jill Castellano , USA TODAY

Drill in hand, Tim Wilson kneels to open up a broken air conditioner in Redding, Calif. Repair work like this is steady, but Wilson dreams of more. He wants to be a nurse, and for the first time in a long time, it’s not just a fantasy.

Wilson, 42, a former meth addict, had three felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, which allowed some felons to retroactively change their records. With these convictions reduced, Wilson’s chances of being licensed as a nurse are much better. He plans to start school in two years.

“I want to prove that I am worth the risk to give a license,” Wilson said. “God has a plan for me … But I hope it’s not air conditioning.”

In 2014, California voters freed about 13,500 low-level offenders from crowded prisons and jails. But many ex-inmates have traded incarceration for a cycle of homelessness, drug abuse and petty crime.
Jill Castellano , Brett Kelman , Kristen Hwang , Cheri Carlson , Amy Wu and Jenny Espino , USA TODAY

Ruben Lopez Jr. wakes up on a rundown leather couch inside a dingy auto shop in the Los Angeles suburbs. He feels the familiar temptation of an old enemy. His body aches, his mind buzzes, his nose runs and his stomach twists. He craves meth just to steady himself and knows it is only two blocks away, at a small homeless camp under a bridge.

Lopez, 57, a longtime addict, was serving a life sentence in prison for a third-strike methamphetamine conviction until last year, when he was released by Proposition 47, which downgraded drug possession and most small thefts to misdemeanors. Prop 47 felt like emancipation at first, Lopez said, but freedom has not gone as planned.

After two decades behind bars, his only job prospects are low-paying temp work. He would be homeless if not for the generosity of his cousin, who lets him sleep in the auto shop. He is still smoking meth. He knows that if police were to bust him again, he’d be locked up for hours, not years.