Thursday, March 30, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Kristi Chan, The Bold Italic

Just 12 miles past the soaring vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge sits the fortress-like San Quentin prison. Surrounded by water, beneath Marin’s rolling hills and Mt. Tamalpais, there is a cruel irony to being interned so close to this scenery, yet with no way to see it. Built over a century ago, San Quentin is the oldest prison in California and is home to all the state’s death-row inmates.

We’ve come here to meet the participants of the Last Mile — a flagship program that teaches prisoners how to code — at their Demo Day, or program graduation. While I’m still trying to remember how I edited the code on my Myspace page to have orange text, these men are engineering programs for companies like Airbnb and writing in more coding languages than most of us have even heard of. It’s all the more impressive, given that many of these men have never even used the Internet (some were sentenced before it was commonplace).

Christopher Zoukis, The Huffington Post

Prison might be the last place you would expect to see a great performance of Shakespeare. But for more than a decade, Marin Shakespeare Company in California has taught Shakespeare in several prisons, and to rave reviews.

In 1989, the company launched to reinvigorate Shakespeare in Northern California, but has expanded its scope over the years, teaching a variety of workshops and programs, including outreach through the Shakespeare for Social Justice Program, started in San Quentin Prison in 2003, and expanding it to several other facilities. Their mission is “to achieve excellence in the staging and study of Shakespearean plays, to celebrate Shakespeare and to serve as a cultural and educational resource for the people of Marin, the San Francisco Bay Area, and beyond.”

Shakespeare might seem like an odd choice, stereotypically relegated to the fodder of English classes and the efforts of British actors, but program proponents espouse its benefits. Studying Shakespeare teaches complex language and literacy skills, critical thinking about human emotions and the consequences of choices, emotional intelligence, empathy, self-reflection and gives rise to the exploration of new ways of thinking.

Eve Batey, SFist

The woman who made history as the person in the United States to receive gender reassignment surgery while incarcerated is spurring more changes in California's correctional system, as new proposed rules would allow trans inmates makeup and undergarments that reflect their gender identity even if the place of their inprisonment does not.

You already know the name Shiloh Heavenly Quine, the 57-year-old convicted murderer whose lawsuit paved the way for California prison inmates to receive the surgery, as outlined in official guidelines announced by the California Department of Corrections back in October of 2015. It was announced in January that Quine underwent the procedure in a San Francisco hospital, after which she was transferred to the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.


Mike Sprague, The Whittier Daily News

WHITTIER >> Five weeks after the death of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer, the City Council on Tuesday approved two resolutions that its members hope will persuade state legislators to reform laws they blame in part for his death.

One of the resolutions supports Assemblyman Ian Calderon’s bill, A.B. 1408, that among other things would require jailing probationers who violate the terms of their supervision at least three times.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Transgender California prison inmates would be allowed to have bras, cosmetics and other personal items corresponding to their gender identities under proposed rules filed with state regulators on Tuesday.

The state corrections department is seeking the changes in response to a federal lawsuit that earlier led California to become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery to an inmate.

Transgender female inmates housed in men’s facilities could have feminine undergarments, lip gloss and mascara, for instance, while transgender male inmates in women’s prisons could wear aftershave and boxers.

Correctional News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Good behavior and demonstrated efforts at self-improvement could soon earn California prison inmates months off their sentences. Under new criminal sentencing guidelines unveiled by the state on March 24, inmates who successfully complete courses in parenting, anger management, substance abuse and addiction, counseling and similar topics will be able to reduce their sentences by one month per year, while those who earn a high school diploma or college degree can shave up to six months off their sentences. These and other new sentencing initiatives aim to help the state trim its overall prison population by 9,500 inmates, or roughly 7 percent of the state’s overall prison population, over the next four years.

California voters approved the new parole guidelines in November 2016 as part of Proposition 57. The guidelines will apply only to nonviolent offenders; those serving life sentences without the possibility of parole and those on death row will not be eligible, according to Mercury News. Input from state law enforcement officials and prosecutors have also impacted the plan, removing both third-strike career criminals and sex offenders from eligibility as well.


Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

Q: In 2007, James Calvin Gaines was convicted of the 1972 murder of 12-year-old Shannon Ritter as she baby-sat four children in Rancho Cordova. He was sentenced to life but was eligible for parole as early as August 2013. What is his current status?

Clyde, Citrus Heights

A: James Calvin Gaines was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison with possibility of parole for the 1972 murder of 12-year-old Shannon Ritter at a Rancho Cordova apartment.

Gaines, 68, is at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione. Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said a parole hearing for Gaines was held in June 2016. He will be eligible for another parole hearing in November 2021.

Sarah Elliott, The Kaweah Commonwealth

He’s been in prison for 14 years. And he has never wavered on the fact that he is innocent and was wrongly accused and convicted.

In February 2002, Gary Tomlin was living and working in Three Rivers when a chance sexual encounter at Lake Kaweah sent his life into a downward spiral from which he would never recover. During the subsequent trial, Gary was found guilty on charges that included a gun enhancement even though a weapon was never produced. In a case that was based on he-said/he-said testimony, circumstantial evidence, and no physical proof, Judge Joseph Kalashian sentenced Gary to 51-years-to-life and, on April 3, 2003, he was sent to state prison.

And now, for the past almost four years, Gary, 54, has been battling cancer. He has been diagnosed with Stage 4 gastroesophageal cancer.

Sabra Stafford, The Turlock Journal

Two Turlock men are facing a litany of theft related charges after they allegedly targeted multiple stores in Sonora while driving a stolen vehicle.

Adrian Eugene Hernandez, 26, and Paul James Howard, 33, both of Turlock were taken into custody on the evening of March 23 after being stopped by the California Highway Patrol and arrests by officers from the Sonora Police Department. They each were charged with felony theft, shoplifting, and conspiracy, according to the Sonora Police Department.


Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

Vonya Quarles grew up in South Los Angeles and describes herself as a third-generation convicted felon. But by the time she took the microphone at a Highland town hall meeting in January 2016, she was a lawyer and executive director of a Riverside County nonprofit that helps connect the homeless, formerly incarcerated and mentally ill to transitional housing.

With applause from the audience, she urged state officials not to create “an additional funding stream for the sheriff,” but to pour new funds into community groups, the kind that had helped her kick a drug addiction and get off the streets. That was the fundamental promise of Proposition 47, the sweeping, controversial 2014 ballot measure that downgraded six drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors and allowed defendants to renegotiate their punishments. This spring, the state will begin the process of awarding $103 million in grants, all funded by the ballot initiative’s cost savings from keeping fewer nonviolent offenders in prison.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Rick Dulock, Capital Public Radio

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced new regulations Friday that would allow more prisoners to reduce their sentences.  KVCR's Rick Dulock delivers this story which comes from Capital Public Radio.


abc News

WASCO, Calif. - The Coroner's Office has released the official cause and manner of death for an inmate at Wasco State Prison who died in November 2016.

Thomas Russell, 48, was found unresponsive in his jail cell on November 29.

Life saving measures were attempted but he died a short time later.


Mike O’Reilley, Napa Valley Register

On the morning of Feb. 20, gang member Michael Mejia fatally shot Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer and wounded his partner, Officer Patrick Hazell. Mejia had been released from jail nine days earlier.

Boyer and Hazell encountered Mejia while responding to a traffic collision. Mejia was driving a stolen car and had rear-ended another vehicle. When the officers arrived, they asked Mejia to exit his car so they could pat him down for weapons.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Corrections officials adopted new criminal sentencing rules on Friday that aim to trim California's prison population by 9,500 inmates after four years.

They include steps like reducing inmates' sentences up to six months for earning a college degree and by up to a month each year for participating in self-help programs such as alcohol and substance abuse support groups and counseling, anger management, life skills, victim awareness, restorative justice, and parenting classes.


Megan Rose Dickey, Tech Crunch

North of San Francisco, there’s a European-like fortress along the water that is “home” to over 3,000 prisoners. The surroundings are beautiful, but the tall walls of San Quentin, the oldest prison in California, make it almost impossible to be able to enjoy any of it from the prison yard.

When I first entered the facility, one of the media escorts said heaven was on our right and hell was on the left. To my right was a chapel and places of worship for Muslims, Jews, Christians and Protestants. To my left was the adjustment center, where San Quentin’s more violent criminals are imprisoned. That’s the side closest to the only death row in California.


KTVU San Francisco

SANTA CRUZ (KTVU) -- The killing of Madyson Middleton struck at the core of California's conscience because it was a hideous crime committed in a Santa Cruz arts center apartment complex.

The slaying of the 8-year-old boy was made more shocking because the identity of the suspect was the victim's then-15 year old neighbor.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Gary Klien, Marin Independent Journal

A convicted sex offender living in San Jose was arrested on suspicion of “sexually motivated” contacts with a group of Fairfax boys, police said.

Richard Thomas Williams, 54, is classified as a “high-risk” sex offender in the state Department of Justice database. His prior convictions include oral copulation with a minor under 16 years old and lewd acts with a victim 14 or 15 years old, according to the database.

Fairfax police opened an investigation this month after a 16-year-old Fairfax boy reported some suspicious encounters to his parents. The boy said a man approached him and two friends at a Fairfax restaurant twice in two weeks, offering them money and food to help him wash cars.


Don Thompson, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The first U.S. inmate to have taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery says she’s been mistreated since being transferred to a California women’s prison, where she now has a beard and mustache because officials have denied her a razor.

In a hand-written federal court filing, convicted killer Shiloh Heavenly Quine called her new housing at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla a “torture unit.” She said she’s unnecessarily isolated from other inmates and denied basic items.

State officials say she’s being treated like other female inmates. All initially are denied privileges like razors and TVs as they are evaluated.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Sheyanne Romero, Visalia Times-Delta

A high-risk registered sex offender was arrested after failing to comply with parole requirements, Porterville police said.

Officers were told by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that Louie Ramirez, 34 of Porterville, was wanted by agents for failing to meet parole requirements.

Together, officers and US Marshalls responded just after 8 a.m. Tuesday to the 400 block of West Morton Avenue.


Sierra Sun Times

March 21, 2017 - MARIPOSA – A minimum-security inmate who walked away from the Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) Mount Bullion Conservation Camp (CC #39) in Mariposa County on March 21 has been apprehended.

Inmate Blake Castro, 31, was apprehended at approximately 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 21, by the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office after a property owner notified law enforcement of a suspicious person in Catheys Valley. Castro was taken into custody without incident and will be returned to SCC.


Xavier Alatorre, EL Paisano

Florida Governor Rick Scott removed State Attorney Aramis Ayala from the case of an accused cop killer after she announced she would not seek the death penalty in this case or any other case thereafter. Scott has assigned Lake County State Attorney Brad King to the case.

“Earlier today, I called on State Attorney Ayala to immediately recuse herself from this case,” said Scott in a statement. “She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that. She has made it clear that she will not fight for justice, and that is why I am using my executive authority to immediately reassign the case.”


Miriam Hernandez, abc News 7

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's a whole new world for Andrew Wilson.

He was recently released from prison 32 years after a murder conviction that the District Attorney's Office now acknowledges resulted from an unfair trial.

Free now for less than a week, he is still adjusting to life on the outside, tasting new foods and learning how to use a cellphone.

On Tuesday, he visited Loyola Law School, thanking law students and staff at the Project for the Innocent who secured his release.


Ana Zamora, The Sacramento Bee

A new Florida State Attorney, Aramis Ayala, made a bold move when she recently announced that capital punishment is “not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice,” and vowed not to seek the death penalty in future cases.

In taking this courageous stand, Ayala recognizes that the death penalty is a false promise to victims’ families and the community. She joins other newly elected prosecutors across the nation who are no longer pushing for a policy that is tremendously costly, arbitrarily doled out and risky in its implementation. The death penalty is deeply flawed, and its use and support continue to dwindle nationwide.

California district attorneys should take a cue from their colleague in Florida and review and reconsider their support of this outdated policy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Jim Guy, The Fresno Bee

California prison officials are searching for a minimum-security inmate who walked away from the Sierra Conservation Center, Mount Bullion Conservation Camp in Mariposa County on Monday.

Blake Castro, 31, was reported missing during an inmate count. He was last seen at 2 a.m. Monday in his assigned housing unit.

Local law enforcement and the California Highway are assisting in the search for Castro.


Jenny Day, CW 6 News

CW6’s Jenny Day went beyond the barbed wire to give us a look at the “Playwrights Project” – a program that’s allowing prisoners to express themselves on paper and on stage.

For the prisoners, their days are predictable, but their list of activities are short.  Wake up, eat, work out; but now, some inmates at this maximum security prison are writing plays that will be performed at San Diego State.


Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle

Sex offenders in California who have completed their prison sentences must comply with strict monitoring conditions while on probation, including undergoing lie-detector tests about their conduct and receiving treatment from therapists who can reveal their secrets to a probation officer, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Although offenders must take part in the lie-detector interrogation and therapy, none of their answers can be used to file or prove new criminal charges against them, the court said. The goal, instead, is to monitor the former inmates and prevent future crimes, the justices said.

Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers on Monday said they have filed a package of bills in an attempt to divert children from a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects low-income and black and Latino families.

Sens. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) have introduced eight proposals that would extend protections for children facing arrest or detention and ease punishment and burdensome fees for those inside the juvenile justice system.

In a news conference at Sacramento’s Leataata Floyd Elementary School, home to what lawmakers called model educational programs meant to empower children, Mitchell and Lara said they wanted their legislation to center on prevention, rehabilitation and keeping families together.

Karina Ioffee, East Bay Times

A Bay Area politician wants to tax companies that do business with California prisons as a way to raise money for preschool programs and reduce incarceration rates.

Assembly Bill 43, authored by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, aims to restore some of the $227 million previously promised to preschool programs that is on hold because of state budget challenges. Without that money, nearly 3,000 children will not be able to attend subsidized preschools next fiscal year and possibly beyond. It also limits the reimbursement rates for childcare providers.

Redding Record Searchlight

There is little doubt about who killed Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer in late winter, or how he died: Authorities quickly identified ex-convict Michael Christopher Mejia as the culprit, also suspected of killing his cousin and stealing the cousin’s car.

But there is plenty of debate over who and/or what is responsible for Boyer’s death. “There’s blood on the hands of Gov. Brown,” trumpeted Republican state Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford in a press release two days after the incident. He blames Brown and other Democrats for “early-release laws that ended in the…preventable death of Officer Boyer.”

Monday, March 20, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Paul Gaita, The Fix

The waiving of a California law now allows LVNs to administer naloxone without a doctor's permission.

In an effort to stem the tide of overdose deaths among inmates, a federal judge has waived a California state law that prevents licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) from administering the opioid overdose antagonist drug, naloxone, without permission from a doctor.

The waiver was requested by California Correctional Health Care Services federal receiver J. Clark Kelso, a law professor and associate dean of strategic initiatives at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. As the receiver, Kelso facilitates the health care system for inmates in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the behest of federal judge Thelton Henderson of California's Northern District.


Teri Figueroa, The San Diego Union Tribune

A documented Escondido gang member accused of murder could face the death penalty in the fatal shooting of a woman who was headed home from church when she was struck by bullets that police say were intended for a rival gang member.

Dionicio Crespin Torrez Jr., 24, pleaded not guilty in a Vista courtroom Friday in the murder of Cathy Kennedy, 55, who was shot as she drove eastbound on East Grand Avenue about 9 p.m. March 7, not long after leaving a weekly bible study at the Church of St. Timothy. Kennedy died at a hospital a short time later.


The Recorder

An investigation into gang and criminal activity led to four arrests Thursday afternoon by Porterville Police Department detectives.

Detectives began an investigation after receiving information that alerted them to the possibility that Brandon Gonzalez, 29, who is an active criminal street gang member and on active California Department of Corrections Parole, was in possession of multiple firearms, a stolen motorcycle, and narcotics.

At approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday, Porterville Police Narcotics Unit Detectives learned that Gonzalez was at a residence in the 2000 block of West Morton Avenue. Detectives from both the Narcotics Unit and Special Investigations Unit responded to the residence to conduct further investigation.