Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Ted Goldberg, KQED

The radio used by the supervisor of a crew of prison firefighters clearing brush in Humboldt County was not working in the moments after a 3,000-pound tree fell on one of the inmates, killing him last month, according to a preliminary Cal Fire report.

“Tree! Get out of the way!” the unidentified Cal Fire captain yelled after hearing two loud pops. He looked up to see the 146-foot-long Douglas fir tip over toward his crew members who were clearing brush near the community of Orleans in the Six Rivers National Forest on the afternoon of May 24.


Benjamin Mullin, Poynter

When Nigel Poor wakes up in the dead of night with a concern about her podcast, she can't fire off a text to her co-host. She can't give him a quick call, drop him a line on Twitter or stop by his house.

That's because, like the other men locked up in San Quentin State Prison, Earlonne Woods doesn't have his own phone. He doesn't even have access to the internet. But, unlike his fellow inmates, Woods is the co-host of his own podcast.

Woods and Poor are two-thirds of Ear Hustle, a new show about life on the inside being launched by the podcasters at Radiotopia. Their co-creator, co-producer and sound designer is Antwan Williams, another inmate at San Quentin. Together, they make an unlikely trio for Radiotopia's network of high-end podcasts: Poor is a visual artist who volunteers at the prison; Woods is serving 31 years-to-life for attempted second-degree robbery; Williams is serving a 15-year sentence for an armed robbery.


Brian Melley, The Associated Press

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over a ballot initiative designed to speed up executions that could fundamentally change the way the court handles death penalty appeals.

Death penalty opponents are challenging a ballot measure passed by a slim majority of voters in November that aimed to reform a dysfunctional system that hasn't executed a condemned killer in more than a decade.

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a man dubbed the “Bedroom Basher,” who was convicted of a series of slayings that occurred in the late 1970s in Orange County.

The court issued its decision Monday. Gerald Parker was sentenced to death following his conviction on murder charges in the slayings of five women in Orange County and the unborn child of a Tustin woman who survived an attack.

The attacks occurred in 1978 and 1979, but remained unsolved until prosecutors say DNA evidence linked them to Parker in 1996. That evidence cleared a man – a husband of one a woman who survived – who had been in prison for nearly 17 years in the incident.

Katy Murphy,  Bay Area News Group

In the latest battlefront over the death penalty in California, the state’s high court hears arguments Tuesday on whether a voter-approved proposal to speed up the executions of death-row inmates runs afoul of the state constitution.

At issue is a ballot measure that voters narrowly approved in November, Proposition 66, to accelerate capital punishment — mainly, by setting 5-year deadlines for appeals — in a state in which inmates routinely sit on death row for decades. The election results were barely in before it was challenged in court.


Matt Fountain, The San Luis Obispo Tribune

Three years into his 65-year prison sentence for molesting a young boy, a Cambria man is back in the community following a successful appeal.

But Ronald John Cowan’s freedom may be short-lived as prosecutors prepare to retry him for the crimes later this month.

Cowan, 60, was convicted in 2014 of five counts of felony child molestation. According to court records, the crimes were reported in 2012 by a foster parent after the boy, who was a family friend of Cowan’s, told the parent that Cowan had abused him over a two-year period from 2010 to 2012, while his mother was incarcerated on drug charges. The boy was 6 to 8 years old at the time of the abuse.

Tammerlin Drummond, Bay Area News Group

OAKLAND >> Since the passage of voter initiative that reduced certain low-level property and drug felonies to misdemeanors and allowed people who were already in prison for those crimes to apply for re-sentencing, 18,000 fewer people are incarcerated in jails and prisons in California, and there have been 40,000 fewer convictions.

The state of California has saved $103 million from the people it is not putting behind bars and through Proposition 47, Alameda County will get $6 million of that for community-based re-entry programs.


Christina Neitzey, Kathryn Harris and Mary Huang, The San Francisco Chronicle

California has long been a beacon of diversity and a welcoming home for religious minorities. Indeed, countless state officials have highlighted this public commitment in recent months in challenging President Trump’s travel ban. Ahead of his January confirmation, for example, Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised California as “a welcoming state,” and condemned religious discrimination as “antithetical to (our) deepest constitutional values and traditions.”

Despite this pledge of tolerance, however, one large group of believers stands to be shut out: Sabbath observers. Absent immediate attention from these same state officials, those who faithfully observe the ancient practice of abstaining from work on the Sabbath will remain unwelcome from working as correctional officers in the largest prison system in the country.

The Times Editorial Board

Long awaited but right on time, more than $100 million in state funding is headed toward cities and counties to treat, house and retrain Californians whose addictions or illnesses make them high risks to commit crimes and to wind up in jail or prison.

The money is a product of the savings reaped from a declining state prison population, which is in turn a result of Proposition 47, the criminal justice reform measure adopted by voters in 2014. Proposition 47 reduced simple drug possession and some property crimes like shoplifting from felonies to misdemeanors. Many of these crimes were already misdemeanors in other states.