Thursday, August 31, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


By choice, for less than $2 an hour, the female inmate firefighters of California work their bodies to the breaking point. Sometimes they even risk their lives.
Jaime Lowe, The New York Times Magazine

Shawna Lynn Jones climbed from the back of a red truck with ‘‘L.A. County Fire’’ printed on its side. Ten more women piled out after her, at a spot on the border of Agoura Hills and Malibu, in Southern California. They could see flames in the vicinity of Mulholland Highway, from a fire that had been burning for about an hour. Jones and her crew wore helmets and yellow Nomex fire-retardant suits; yellow handkerchiefs covered their mouths and necks. Each woman carried 50 pounds of equipment in her backpack: gloves, flares, food, full water bottles, safety and medical gear and an emergency shelter, in case they were surrounded by flames. As the ‘‘second saw,’’ Jones was one of two women who carried a chain saw with her. She was also one of California’s 250 or so female-inmate firefighters.

Jones worked side by side with Jessica Ornelas, the ‘‘second bucker,’’ who collected whatever wood Jones cut down. Together they were responsible for ‘‘setting the line,’’ which meant clearing potential fuel from a six-foot-wide stretch of ground between whatever was burning and the land they were trying to protect. If they did their job right, a fire might be contained. But any number of things could quickly go wrong — a slight wind shift, the fall of a burning tree — and the fire would jump the break.

Jason Kotowski, The Bakersfield Californian

Joseph Son, a bit actor who achieved a measure of celebrity portraying a henchman in the first "Austin Powers" movie, was sentenced Wednesday for beating his cellmate to death in a Kern County prison.

Son, 46, showed no reaction as Judge John R. Brownlee gave him the maximum penalty of 27 years for his voluntary manslaughter conviction last month.

Due to a 2011 torture conviction in the rape of woman in Huntington Beach, it's likely he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Cathy Locke, The Sacramento Bee

The death of an inmate who was stabbed Tuesday at California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom is being investigated as a homicide.

Inmates Osvaldo Luengas, 26, and Jose Chavez, 27, were seen stabbing inmate Anthony Oliva, 22, in the prison exercise yard about 2 p.m., according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release. Prison staff members sounded the alarm and ordered all inmates to get on the ground.

John Bays, Lodi News-Sentinel

STOCKTON — Wendell Anthony Lindsey was sentenced to six years in state prison for manslaughter and an additional three years for using a firearm in the shooting death of Luis G. Alvarez Jr., of Lodi, during Lindsey’s sentencing on Wednesday at the San Joaquin County Courthouse.

Judge Ronald Northup also informed Lindsey that he would be paroled for up to three years following his release, at the discretion of the California Department of Corrections.

Alvarez’s stepfather and mother, Diego and Leticia Galvan, and his family were not satisfied with the sentence, as they felt the punishment was not harsh enough for his crime.

Asa Mason, Cuestonian

For the first time, Cuesta will be hosting artwork of prison inmates through an exhibit called “Between the Bars.”

It will feature artwork produced by incarcerated artists from the nearby California Men’s Colony.

Many of the prison artists featured in this exhibit are Cuesta College students participating in a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism through education, program staff said.

Lt. Sam Robinson, CDCR News

SAN QUENTIN — Condemned inmate Christopher Adam Geier, 49, who was on California’s death row from San Bernardino County, was pronounced dead on August 30, 2017, at 11:34 a.m. at San Quentin State Prison. He was out on the recreation yard when he collapsed at 10:46 a.m. Wednesday morning. Lifesaving measures were initiated, but Geier passed away. The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy.

Geier was sentenced to death by a San Bernardino County jury, on July 21, 1995, for two counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. He was convicted for the rape and murder of Military Police Officer Erin Tynan, and the murder for financial gain of Curtis James Dean, who was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in front of his young children. Geier was also convicted for the conspiracy to murder Gail LeBouef, who survived being shot in the face.


A former member of Charles Manson's murderous cult is expected to get a court hearing to determine the role of her young age in the killing of a California couple four decades ago.
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former member of Charles Manson's murderous cult is expected to get a court hearing to evaluate the role of her young age in the killing of a California couple four decades ago.

Leslie Van Houten is not expected to attend the hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday.

The 68-year-old is serving a life sentence at the California Institution for Women.


Christine Thomasos , Christian Post

Members of the Christian band Hillsong United are sharing the life-changing moment that took place recently when they visited an inmate who wrote to them from a California state prison.

Hillsong United from the Hillsong megachurch in Sydney, Australia, visited Folsom State Prison in Represa, California, after inmate Lothar Preston wrote them a letter to share how much they have inspired him. On July 23 Matt Crocker, Jonathon Douglass and Taya Smith performed "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace," and "Oceans" in a packed prison chapel, according to Serving California, an organization that seeks to encourage prisoners in the state.


Imperial Valley News

Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the following appointments:

Brantley Choate, 54, of Rocklin, has been appointed director of the Division of Rehabilitative Programs at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he has served as superintendent of correctional education since 2014. Choate was director of inmate educational programs at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from 2011 to 2014, director of adult education at the Sacramento City Unified School District from 2008 to 2011 and held several positions at the Hayward Adult School from 2007 to 2008, including principal and assistant principal. He founded the Golden Hills School in 1992, where he was principal from 1992 to 2003, and was owner at El Dorado Tutorial Center from 1990 to 1993. Choate was an English as a Second Language teacher for the Liberty Union High School District from 1988 to 1990 and for the Brentwood Union School District from 1987 to 1991. He earned Doctor of Education and Master of Arts degrees in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s College. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $160,320. Choate is a Republican.


KTVU San Francisco

RICHMOND (BCN)--A multi-agency, 18-month enforcement effort has nabbed seven members of a Richmond street gang allegedly responsible for three homicides and crimes throughout Contra Costa County, police said today.

The gang, which goes by the name Swerve Team, is linked to 14 attempted murders, two carjackings, six armed robberies and a home invasion, according to Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown, who announced the arrests this morning along with federal, state and local law enforcement officials.


Long Beach Press Telegram

How to clear up confusion about the death penalty

Re “Scott Dekraai should get death penalty” (Letters, Aug. 25):

Letter writer Isadora Johnson states that she is usually “against the death penalty, but in the case of Scott Evans Dekraai, confessed killer of eight, wounding another while wearing a bullet proof vest, it seems that the death penalty should be warranted.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Dom Pruett, The Reporter

The future wasn’t always bright for Justin Sarna of Vallejo.

A self-proclaimed drug addict of 13 years with a first-degree burglary conviction in 2015 to boot, the 25-year-old was staring at a life in and out of the criminal justice system, impeded by a debilitating and unshakable drug addiction.

On Monday, Sarna, who precisely boasted seven months and eight days of sobriety, was celebrated as the first-ever graduate of the Solano County Parole Reentry Court’s program — a recently developed court program that strives to provide parolees resources for rehabilitation without incarceration.


Taryn Luna, The Sacramento Bee

California’s so-called “sanctuary state” bill, introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León as a direct response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to deport “bad hombres” and undocumented immigrants, is well on its way to becoming law.

One of the most contentious legislative issues in a year rife with racial tension, Senate Bill 54 pits nationalists who have long called for the removal of the undocumented community from an increasingly Latino state against advocates on the left who believe the president is unfairly targeting a vulnerable population of Mexican immigrants.

State funds will assist local agencies in providing services to formerly incarcerated
Eddie Rivera, Pasadena Now

The Pasadena Police Department has been awarded a California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) grant award of $2,511,537, to be used over three years to provide mental health, substance abuse treatment, and supportive services to formerly incarcerated community members.

The Department was the only City police department in the state to be awarded such a BSCC grant, according to Pasadena Police Lieutenant Jason Clawson, who led the grant application process on behalf of the department.

“This is a breakthrough program for this City,” said Mayor Terry Tornek, following Clawson’s presentation at City Hall before the Council on Monday night. Councilmember Victor Gordo echoed Tornek’s comments, calling the award a “proud moment” for the City.

Heidi Harris, Tech News Spy

Cell phones are weapons in the hands of inmates.

Such was the effect of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s words at a Corrections Technology Association conference last year.
One might consider it hyperbole, but prison officials urge otherwise: Consider – an Alabama prison uprising filmed by inmates and posted to Facebook; the revenge killing of a young infant in Ga., orchestrated from a jail cell; the attempted assassination of a veteran S.C. prison official, a man shot six times in his own home as his wife looks on helplessly.

The common link? Each act was enabled or endorsed via cell phone connection from an inmate inside of a federal prison.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Jess Sullivan, Daily Republic

VACAVILLE — Located in Vacaville are two prisons – California State Prison Solano and California Medical Facility.

CSP Solano is a medium-security facility located on 146 acres and housing about 3,800 prisoners. It was originally designed to hold 2,610 inmates. The warden at CSP Solano is Eric Arnold.

CSP Solano operates with an annual $147 million budget and has more than 1,150 employees.


Christian Monterrosa, Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Anthony Perez, 26, on parole for burglary, was arrested on Thursday, Aug. 24, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Facebook page.

The California Department of Corrections reported a sighting of Perez, who was in violation of his parole, at a Newhall residence. Shortly after, the Sheriff’s Summer Suppression team responded.


Shweta Chawla, Daily Bruin

Organizations have been urging people to take advantage of the public comment period for Proposition 57 to ensure that the original intentions of the proposition are put into place.

Proposition 57, known as The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, was passed by voters in November and aims to review parole hearings and acknowledge inmates’ improvement in behavior.

Under the proposition, inmates who comply with prison rules or participate in in-prison programs, such as academic or vocational programs, can get a greater percentage of their sentence reduced, and nonviolent offenders can more easily get parole. In addition, the proposition mandates that judges, not prosecutors, decide whether juvenile defendants be tried in an adult court.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Shelby Grad, The Los Angeles Times

The California Supreme Court on Thursday made a key ruling in the long-running question over the state’s use of the death penalty.

The high court decided that a key provision in Proposition 66, last year’s ballot measure to speed executions, failed to impose strict deadlines for resolving death penalty appeals. The ruling left most of the initiative intact, and that could mean the resumption of executions.

Alexei Koseff and Adam Ashton, The Sacramento Bee

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a voter initiative that aims to speed up the death penalty, although it relaxed strict deadlines in the law calling those targets “directive rather than mandatory.”

The court’s decision turned on whether voters intended for Proposition 66 to force the state to resolve its role in death penalty appeals within five years, as supporters pledged when they described the initiative in voter guides and in their campaign. That timeline would greatly condense a process that often takes more than 20 years.


The Pasadena Star-News

As much as some politicians, police unions and pundits want it to be true, crime isn’t out of control in California. In fact, crime rates are about as low as they have ever been in the past 50 years.

On Aug. 17, the state attorney general released statewide crime data for 2016. Overall, the violent crime rate ticked up 4.1 percent compared to 2015 and property crime fell by 2.9 percent.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips

Maura Dolan, The Los Angeles Times

The California Supreme Court decided Thursday that a key provision in last year’s ballot measure to speed executions did not impose a strict deadline for resolving death penalty appeals.

Proposition 66, sponsored by prosecutors and passed by 51% of voters, was intended to remove various hurdles that have prevented the state from executing an inmate in more than 10 years.

Thursday’s ruling construed the measure’s requirement that death penalty appeals must be decided within five years as merely “directive,” not mandatory.


Dom Pruett,Vallejo Times Herald

Two California Medical Facility (CMF) inmates accused of murdering another inmate last year made a brief appearance in court together Wednesday.

Sherman Dunn, 45, and Percy Robinson, 28, are charged with murder in the death of 66-year-old Jose Garcia. The two men allegedly beat Garcia to death the night of Aug. 22, 2016. Prison staff found Garcia inside a 30-inmate dormitory in a pool of his own blood. He was pronounced dead shortly after 11 p.m.


Patrick McGreevy, The Los Angeles Times

Felons in state prison would be allowed to vote in California elections under a ballot measure proposed Wednesday by a group representing prisoners, their families and supporters.

The constitutional amendment was filed on Wednesday by Initiate Justice, an Oakland-based group that seeks criminal justice system changes for inmates, including the group's 2,500 members behind bars. The group has 1,000 supporters on the outside, according to founder and executive director Taina Vargas-Edmond.

Adam Ashton, The Sacramento Bee

It didn’t take long for Meghan Frederick to feel the harassment she feared would come when she told her fellow correctional officers at a Sacramento prison that she identified as a transgender woman.

Her peers had known her for a decade as an athletic man who’d left a career in finance to join the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Jessica Weston, Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Teresa Webber picked up an important motto from an unlikely source.

Webber was working for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when a riot broke out between opposing factions. One day later, she was interviewing inmates about why the riot had occurred and she asked an inmate a question.

“I don’t remember exactly what the question was but his answer to me was ‘without change, there is no growth,’” she said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


The Madera Tribune

The state’s Board of Parole Hearings has denied release to a man convicted of setting fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area during the summer of 2013, the Madera County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Kenneth Allen Jackson is serving a 30-year sentence at Solano State Prison. His wife, Alice Waterman, was sentenced to 10 years of prison.

The board decided that Jackson posed “an unreasonable risk of violence to the community,” and noted in its decision Thursday, “Jackson’s commitment offenses held an entire community in fear and victimized a multitude of citizens for weeks on end. Jackson also demonstrated violence when he shoved the arresting officer in an attempt to escape capture.”

Rosalio Ahumada, Modesto Bee

A Modesto man convicted of stabbing his wife five times because she wanted a divorce has been granted parole.

Catarino Santos Martinez, 49, was found suitable for parole at a July 12 hearing, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.

Prosecutors said Martinez had been denied parole six times in the past 13 years. The Governor’s Office will review Martinez’s case and determine whether to uphold or overturn the state parole board’s decision. If Martinez is released, prosecutors say federal immigration officials will deport him.


KSBW, Felix Cortez

SALINAS, Calif. — Calling Jose Castaneda’s courtroom remorse "less than sincere," Monterey County Judge Carrie Panetta sentenced him Tuesday to serve eight years in prison for domestic violence.

After Castaneda read a 15-minute defendant statement, Panetta described the former Alisal school board president and Salinas City Council member as self-serving, narcissistic, and lacking a sense of responsibility for the crimes he committed against his ex-girlfriend.

Rachel Zentz, The Salinas Californian

Richard Anthony Sanchez, 48, and Daniel Ray Ramos, 32, both of San Jose, have pleaded guilty to First Degree Residential Robbery and Evading a Peace Officer, according to Monterey County District Attorney Dean D. Flippo.

On Oct. 10, 2016, Sanchez arranged to meet the victim at the Motel 6 in Salinas and was driven to the location by Ramos. When Sanchez arrived at the hotel room, he and the victim had a short conversation. The victim had turned her back on Sanchez and when she turned back around, found he had put a gun to her head. He pointed the gun at her while he went through all her belongings and threatened to shoot her, her friend and her dogs if she did anything other than what he commanded her to do. Sanchez stole her laptop, her tablet, approximately $6 in cash and a few pieces of jewelry.


Dan Walters, CalMatters

In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning.

That’s why, for instance, the state’s acute housing shortage will receive much attention during the final month of this year’s session.

During Jerry Brown’s first governorship four decades ago, the most burning issue was the state’s sharply rising crime rate. It decided many contests for statewide, legislative and local offices and worked particularly well for Republicans.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

All five inmates who were hospitalized after being injured in a large riot that broke out Thursday at Sierra Conservation Center have since returned to the Jamestown prison, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials.

Prison spokesman Lt. Robert Kelsey said officials haven’t determined the cause of the riot but believe it wasn’t planned ahead of time because no weapons were found on the inmates involved. None of the inmates who were injured suffered puncture wounds, he added.

Victoria Law, Rewire

"I'd cry because I felt like I was suffocating."

“On any given day, as the cell doors lock for the last time, the temperature is about 93 degrees. Some cells have reported as high as 100 degrees.” This is what Jane Dorotik, who has been incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW) since 2001, wrote to Rewire in July. Dorotik, like many of the women around her, has a digital thermometer in her cell. Each summer, she watches the numbers climb.

The CIW prison is located in San Bernardino County, just outside the Los Angeles area. During the hottest months, the temperature regularly rises above 100 degrees. Inside the brick and cinderblock prison built in the 1950s, it often stays that way even after the sun goes down.


Record Bee

STOCKTON >> The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer Jeffrey Scott Sargent, now age 67. Senior Lake County Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine attended the lifer hearing at the Department of Corrections California Health Care Facility in Stockton and argued against Sargent’s release.

This was Sargent’s 13th subsequent parole hearing since his conviction in 1978.

Sargent was convicted of first degree murder in the death of 83 year old Gedney Robinson and sentenced to 7 years to life on May 15, 1978. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge John Golden and was originally prosecuted by previous District Attorney Robert L. Crone, Jr.


Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

Nearly 60% of California voters approved a ballot measure that reduced some drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors. But only two district attorneys out of all 58 counties across the state supported the measure.

Nearly 65% of voters supported another ballot initiative to overhaul the state's parole system. But only one district attorney out of 58 supported that proposition.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California plans to point out those discrepancies in a new campaign Tuesday that highlights the positions of district attorneys, elected officials who advocates say wield tremendous power over the criminal justice system.


Jazmine Ulloa, The Los Angeles Times

Rapper, actor and activist Common on Monday is expected to draw up to 30,000 people to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento for a free concert in support of state legislation to overhaul California’s bail system and ensure the rights of young people under juvenile detention.

At Monday's “Imagine Justice" concert, former youth offenders shared their stories and activist Byronn Bain performed spoken word poetry. Musical guests on the bill included J.Cole, Goapele and Los Rakas.

Frances Wang, ABC 10

Organizers of Common's #ImagineJustice concert estimate more than 30,000 people showed up for the free event. RSVPs were required online.

Common was joined by other artists like J.Cole, Goapele as as speakers like Von Jones. The purpose of the concert was to raise awareness for reforming the criminal justice system and kick off a 3-day campaign in the state Capitol.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Daily Corrections Clips


Paul Elias, The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a story Aug. 17 about suicides at California women's prisons, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of women's prisons in the state. It has two, not four.

A corrected version of the story is below:

The state auditor says suicides spiked at a California women's prison after officials failed to properly prepare for the transfer of 400 of the state's most dangerous female inmates to the facility.


Christopher Zoukis, Huffington Post

California corrections officials are revamping the state’s parole system, aiming to make thousands more inmates eligible for early release.

Last November, by a nearly 2-1 margin, California voters approved Proposition 57, a ballot initiative seeking to trim the state prison system’s population by 11,500 over the next four years.

As approved, Proposition 57 would create additional ways inmates could earn credits to reduce the length of sentences, such as by signing up for some education, career or rehabilitation classes, and other moves to build up “good time” credits. The initiative also empowered the State Board of Parole Hearings to give early release to a new category of state prison inmates — those who have served their base sentence term for a primary crime not designated by state law as a violent offense, even if they have not yet served time for sentence enhancements and additional charges.

Lake County News

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A man convicted nearly 40 years ago of the brutal murder of an elderly Lucerne man has been denied parole for the 13th time.

On Wednesday, the Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer Jeffrey Scott Sargent, 67.

Senior Lake County Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine attended the lifer hearing at the Department of Corrections California Health Care Facility in Stockton, successfully arguing against Sargent’s release.

Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday commuted the sentences of nine California prisoners who were convicted over the past three decades primarily of murder or attempted murder.

Seven are now eligible to appear before the state Board of Parole Hearings, which will determine whether they are ready to be released.

The Democratic governor has now issued 18 commutations since returning to office in 2011, including seven in April, compared to one in his first two terms. That is far more than his immediate four predecessors, two of whom issued no commutations, but in line with historic figures for other governors. His father, former Gov. Pat Brown, issued 55.

Paul Elias, The Associated Press

Florence Laurel Anderson, a prostitute convicted in Humboldt County of murder alongside her abusive pimp, was among the nine inmates serving time for violent crimes commuted Friday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

According to the commutation, in April 2001 Anderson went to the motel room of Bruce James with her pimp Michael Lane who intended to rob him. Lane stabbed James to death, and he, Anderson and two others made off with $49, credit cards, jewelry and clothing.


Highland Community News

SACRAMENTO - Today, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) submitted a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as part of a public comment period regarding proposed regulations that could lead to the early release of dangerous "nonviolent" inmates and diminish victim rights.

"For years, Democrats in Sacramento have led California in a dangerous direction when it comes to the criminal justice system and the safety of our citizens. Unfortunately, in light of the passage of Proposition 57, the state is on the verge of taking yet another detrimental step that could result in more dangerous criminals back on our streets," said Morrell. "We must continue working to keep our communities safe and that is why I am reaching out for the public's help in this effort. I have submitted my own concerns to CDCR and urge Californians to also join me in making their voices heard on this important issue. "


Laurel Rosenhall, San Francisco Chronicle

SACRAMENTO — Inmates at the state prison in Lancaster in Los Angeles County got an unusual perk this spring: a private meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide and a Grammy-award winning rapper.

It was one stop in a larger effort that has recently brought Common — a musician who blends hip-hop beats with an activist message — close to key California decision-makers. After an artistic career that propelled him from the south side of Chicago to poetry nights in the Obama White House, the 45-year-old rapper is now working to influence state policy.