Archive for May, 2008

Perata carjacking, Oakland music school shooting linked

Posted on May 28, 2008. Filed under: Crime, Parole |

Harry Harris

Bay Area News Group

Article Launched: 05/28/2008 08:01:20 AM PDT

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The following is an excerpt from the article printed in the Oakland Tribune, Dec.30, 2007

Perata safe after carjacking in Oakland

Oakland Tribune, Dec 30, 2007 by Laura Kurtzman

The state senator has lived his whole life in Oakland, and said he has never been the victim of a violent crime.

“This is a punctuation mark on what I’ve been doing for 20 years. There are too many guns out there,” he said. “Anyone who would do that in broad daylight with hundreds of people around must be pretty desperate.”

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A man being prosecuted for a January robbery-shooting that left a fifth-grade Oakland boy paralyzed has become a prime suspect in the December armed carjacking of state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities said Jared Adams’ fingerprints were found in the 2006 red Dodge Charger taken from Perata at gunpoint Dec. 29 near the intersection of 51st Street and Shattuck Avenue. Authorities said Adams, 24, has made admissions to investigators.

Also named as Adams’ suspected accomplice in the carjacking is his longtime friend Ryan McGough, 24, of Oakland, who was arrested Thursday in San Francisco.

Adams’ girlfriend, Maeve McCallon Clifford – who was with Adams when the fifth-grader was shot – has also been implicated in the carjacking by authorities, who said the two men drove the Charger to her East Oakland home after taking it.

Authorities said McGough and Clifford, 19, have also made admissions in the case and that Clifford’s fingerprints were also found in the Charger.

No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three in connection with the carjacking. The case is being reviewed by the Alameda County district attorney’s office and a law enforcement source said charges are expected to be filed soon.

Perata’s office declined to comment.

Adams and Clifford have already been charged in connection with the Jan. 10 robbery-shooting that left Christopher Rodriguez, now 11, paralyzed from the waist down. Christopher, a fifth-grader at Crocker Highlands Elementary School, was taking a piano lesson at Harmony Music School on Piedmont Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road when a bullet pierced the wall of the building, tore through a piano and hit him, damaging his spleen and kidney and severing his spine, doctors said.

Adams is awaiting trial on charges that include attempted murder and robbery in connection with the shooting. Police say Adams fired a gun during the robbery of a gas station across the street from the music school.

Authorities said Adams and McGough have admitted to participating in the Perata carjacking, but each said the other was the masked gunman who took the Charger.

The men who did the carjacking drove to the scene in a gold Chevrolet Camaro that had been taken earlier that day in another armed carjacking in unincorporated San Leandro. The Camaro’s owner and another man were shot at during the carjacking but weren’t hit. That case is being investigated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said neither Adams nor McGough knew who Perata was and targeted him because of the Charger’s 22-inch rims, which they hoped to resell.

The suspects fled separately in the Charger and Camaro, ending up at Clifford’s home in East Oakland, where they apparently drag-raced the two vehicles, authorities said.

Authorities said Clifford found Perata’s wallet and other personal items inside the Charger and realized who he was and told the two men. Panicked by the revelation, officials said the men drove the Charger to Richmond, where it was abandoned that same day. It was found by Richmond police later that night and criminalists pored over it looking for prints and other evidence. It took until the week of May 12 to identify whose prints were in the Charger.

The Camaro was found abandoned a few days later not far from where Clifford lived.

Adams and Clifford, who remain at Santa Rita Jail while awaiting trial on the robbery-shooting, both made admissions to Oakland Officers Steve Nowak and Jason Andersen and implicated McGough in the carjacking, authorities said. Officials embarked on an intensive search for McGough, who was arrested Thursday in San Francisco in connection with a drug case; he also made admissions to Nowak and Andersen about the carjacking, authorities said.

McGough has prior convictions for possession of stolen property and narcotics offenses and is being held on a probation violation.

Adams and Clifford have been in custody since the Jan. 10 robbery-shooting at the Chevron gas station across from the music school. Police said the pair drove there in a stolen Mustang, and after committing the robbery, Adams shot at an attendant. The attendant was not hit but one of the stray bullets penetrated the wall of the music school, striking Christopher. A bullet also went through a parked SUV that Christopher’s mother was sitting in. She was not hurt.

Adams and Clifford were arrested that night after a chase that ended in a wreck.

They have been indicted by a grand jury in connection with the robbery-shooting. Both have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail. Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley will prosecute the case.

“I’m just glad that they are able to do complete investigations and they are working so hard on this case,” Jennifer Rodriguez, Christopher’s mother, said Tuesday.

A week after the boy was shot, his parents joined Perata at the shooting scene as the lawmaker announced his partnership with the Alameda County Public Health Agency and faith community leaders to conduct a gun buyback event.

“If we can get one gun off the streets, if there’s one less handgun in Oakland, there’s one less opportunity for what happened here to Christopher Rodriguez to happen,” Perata said that day.

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California parolees get a chance in community programs

Posted on May 4, 2008. Filed under: Crime, Crime Victim Services, Parole |

By Andy Furillo – afurillo@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, May 4, 2008

California corrections officials are again diverting thousands of parole violators into community programs instead of sending them to prison, hoping this time the experiment doesn’t fail.

Since August, the prison population has steadily declined as the state pours millions of dollars into community programs like drug treatment and electronic home detention.

Four years ago, a similar effort collapsed. The Bureau of State Audits found in 2005 that the state failed to analyze or monitor the programs for effectiveness. Most of the diverted parolees either didn’t complete the programs or wound up back in prison anyway – including 242 who committed new crimes when they otherwise could have been back in prison.

This time, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, supported by top criminal justice researchers from around the country, is evaluating the programs as they roll out. The agency is also assessing the participating offenders for risk, trying to avoid violent public-relations disasters.

Legislative analysts say the prison population reductions could save the state $110 million through the next budget year, but officials say it is too soon to tell whether the trend can continue without compromising public safety.

“I don’t know the answer,” said UC Irvine criminology professor Joan Petersilia, chair of the committee that is advising Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the state’s rehabilitation measures. “It depends on how many very low-risk people we have, and we really don’t know that yet. It also depends on whether the communities will step up to the plate and sponsor these programs. I think it’s an unknown.”

The corrections agency already has suffered one spectacular setback.

Last year, it released a parolee named David Kenneth Hamilton despite an assessment that Hamilton had “a high propensity for violence,” corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said.

Although he violated parole by not attending classes for spousal batterers, officials did not put Hamilton back in prison or into a community program. On April 20, Hamilton, along with another suspect, robbed and killed a man in Foothill Farms, then torched the victim’s house, according to Sacramento sheriff’s investigators. Hamilton was later shot and killed while running from deputies.

Hidalgo defended his agency’s performance in the Hamilton case, saying that his “missing a meeting did not require an automatic revocation” of his parole. Hidalgo said the corrections department still is “absolutely” committed to following through with the new parole direction.

“We think it is important to find alternatives to incarceration for inmates to give them the best chance to succeed,” Hidalgo said.
Parole violators fill prisons

California churns tens of thousands of parolees through the prison system every year for violating the technical terms of their releases, such as missing meetings with their agents, hanging out with other criminals, not attending classes, testing positive for drugs, or failing to comply with any specially set conditions.

Last year, there were 73,657 parole returns to prison, with the average stay amounting to about four months. The result has been massive pressure on the prison system, driving the population last August to an all-time high of 173,614, including 20,030 who at that time were serving short-term parole violations or were awaiting a revocation decision.

In the next seven months, the population dropped by more than 3,600 inmates to 169,949. Short-term parolees in the prison system dropped by 1,500 during that period. Fewer new convictions, mostly for drug and property crimes, accounted for the other half, according to corrections statistics.

A federal class-action lawsuit helped the state reach the lower inmate numbers.

The so-called Valdivia case, settled in U.S. District Court in Sacramento in 2003, forced the state to conduct timely revocation hearings. It also required corrections officials to establish a “remedial sanctions” programs for less-serious parole violators.

Corrections officials shut down the sanctions program once its problems became apparent. After a court challenge, last year the state agreed to make available 1,800 new community drug treatment beds and place 500 more offenders on electronic home detention.

A special master monitoring the case found in November that the state had substantially complied with the order. Plaintiffs lawyer Michael Bien agreed, saying “I think for the first time, there has been a focused, sincere effort to actually come into compliance.”

But the state is only accommodating “a tiny percentage” of its short-term parole violators, and it needs to do a lot more, Bien said.

Parole officials said they are trying.

On its own, the state in the past year opened seven new “day reporting” and community centers for parolees, including one in Sacramento. Parole agents also have placed hundreds of homeless parolees into residential facilities, sometimes instead of prison, in instances where they make mistakes.

As of last month, 5,078 California parolees were enrolled in remedial or intermediate sanctions programs, compared with 1,899 a year ago – a 167 percent increase, according to figures compiled by The Bee.

“We’re confident this is a shift in our paradigm,” said Robert Ambroselli, deputy director in charge of the corrections agency’s parole division.
Parolees accept restrictions

Theresa Joseph, 52, a parolee with a history of credit fraud whose most recent conviction was for attempted robbery, these days wears a wristwatch-sized electronic monitor around her ankle. Her parole agent gave it to her last month when she violated her parole by taking a friend’s car without permission.

Joseph needs to be in her mother’s south Sacramento home by 8 o’clock every night, at risk of a violation. She said the restriction sure beats prison.

“It’s making me think,” Joseph said. “Don’t do anything wrong – don’t do anything wrong. Think before you act. Because the possibility is I could be back in prison. So yes, it’s making me more aware of what I’m doing.”

In some cases, parolees are volunteering for programs, even if it means they’re confined for longer periods of time. Tim Longacre, 45, chose to participate in the three-month Parolee Substance Abuse Program in a locked facility in Folsom and then do three more months in residential aftercare, even though he only faced five months of prison time on his parole violation.

“In (prison), you’re up on a bunk,” Longacre said. “If you get a book to read, you’re lucky. Here you can actually talk to somebody and get some feedback.”

Tony DeWeese, 27, who has been to prison 13 times during the past eight years, including multiple returns on parole violations, graduated from the Folsom program last week and is scheduled to be released Thursday.

“This is a chance for rehabilitation,” DeWeese said. “It makes you look at yourself and think, maybe I do have a problem. Maybe it was all me.”

The programs don’t come cheap. This year, California is spending $217 million on them, including post-prison drug treatment for parolees who complete in-prison programs, according to the governor’s budget. The administration is asking to increase the spending next year to $247 million.

State Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, whose budget subcommittee monitors prison spending, said the investment carries the potential for huge savings down the road.

“I think we possibly are looking at fundamental changes,” Machado said.

Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, urged caution. He said he first wants to see some data.

“They’ve implemented a lot of these changes without showing us how they’re going to improve public safety,” Spitzer said. “What are the results? Are these guys completing these programs? Are they getting new violations?”
Many states pursue change

Parole and corrections agencies across the country are asking the same kinds of questions. About 20 to 25 states are on the same parole change path as California, according to Michael Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, which works with state and local law enforcement agencies on cost-conscious crime fighting strategies.

“There’s a lot of ferment now,” Jacobson said. “And California is right there.”

Jacobson listed Kansas as a state that is a little further along than most, and its corrections chief thinks he is coming up with some answers.

In February, Kansas corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz reported to his state’s Legislature that two years into its parole overhaul, Kansas has cut its rate of parolees committing new crimes in half.

“What we’re doing here isn’t magic,” Werholtz said. “But you’ve got to take the emotion and the politics out of it, and we’ve been very lucky in Kansas that we’ve been able to do that.”

Werholtz said that to make the package work, corrections officials need to stick with it even if a parolee does something horrible.

“Those kinds of things will happen,” he said. “But if I can lower the aggregate numbers, I think we can prove we can make this state safer.”

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