Archive for December, 2011
2:26 PM PST, December 23, 2011
A Sacramento man convicted of having sex with a Chihuahua will have to register on the sex offender registry.
Robert Edward De Shields was sentenced to ten years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.
De Shields, who is confined to a wheelchair, was renting a living space from a South Sacramento family who had an 8-month-old Chihuahua mix.
A family member came home in March to find De Shields holding the dog, who looked scared. The next day, the dog went missing and was later found with De Shields in the garage, this time in pain and shock.
A veterinary check determined the dog had severe injuries to its rectum and internal organs.
De Shields was convicted last month of strangulation and sexual assault on a Chihuahua. He was taking meth at the time of the attack.
Robert De Shields was convicted in November of sexual assault of a dog belonging to a family he was living with.
According to the DA’s Office, De Shields has not been out of custody for more than five months in the last 19 to 20 years.
The sentence of lifetime registration on the sex offender list may seem odd in an animal cruelty case, however the District Attorney says it means De Shields’ sentence will now be served at a state prison. Without the imposition of the sex offender registry, he would have served the ten year sentence at a county jail because of California’s recent realignment plan.
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Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2011
California courts have been too quick to second-guess decisions by the parole board and the governor that deny release to convicted murderers and other life prisoners, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.
The court was responding to a series of lower-court decisions that followed its last major ruling on parole review standards, in August 2008. In that ruling, the state’s high court said both the Board of Parole Hearings and the governor, who has veto power over the board’s decisions, could deny release of a parole-eligible prisoner only if the evidence showed the prisoner was still dangerous, and could not rely solely on the facts of the earlier crime.
Judges and appellate courts have relied on that ruling to overturn dozens of parole denials, finding no evidence that a prisoner was currently dangerous and questioning conclusions by the board and the governor that the inmate lacked “insight” into his or her past criminal conduct.
But in Thursday’s decision, in a case from San Diego County, the justices said courts must accept the board’s findings on lack of insight, or any other basis suggesting the prisoner is still dangerous, if there is any evidence in the record to support it.
“The executive decision of the board or the governor is upheld unless it is arbitrary or procedurally flawed,” said Justice Carol Corrigan in an opinion signed by four of her colleagues. “The court is not empowered to reweigh the evidence. … The scope of judicial review is limited.”
The ruling clarifies standards for hundreds of suits filed each year by life prisoners challenging parole denials. In one such case, a state appeals court ordered a new parole hearing Dec. 21 for a San Francisco man who fatally stabbed a pregnant woman in 1984, saying the parole board had not presented any evidence that he was still dangerous.
The ruling will make courts “very reluctant to overturn the governor or the board, even more reluctant than they are now,” said Michael Beckman, lawyer for a prisoner in Thursday’s case. Beckman contended it would allow the board, which approves parole in only a small fraction of the cases, “to continue breaking the law” that says parole should normally be granted.
Beckman’s client, Richard Shaputis, was 50 when he fatally shot his wife, Erma, at their El Cajon home in January 1987. He claimed it was an accident, but the court said he had beaten her many times in the past and had abused his former wife and molested one of his daughters. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 17 years to life.
Shaputis, now 75, has a spotless record in prison, has taken part in rehabilitation programs, is in ill health and was judged by private psychologists to pose a low risk of violence. The parole board denied his parole in 2009.
A state appeals court overruled the board. Thursday’s ruling blocked Shaputis’ parole.
The ruling can be viewed at links.sfgate.com/ZLFT.
E-mail Bob Egelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Derrik Blanton had his parole revoked on 10/6/11 and was sentenced to 6 months in jail (jail instead of prison because of new public safety realignment law). His release date was supposed to be 1/6/12, but Butte County released early due to overcrowding (due to public safety realignment law). He is sought in the shooting of three people during a home invasion robbery. One died right away and another while at the hospital (unconfirmed.)
One Dead in Oroville Apartment Shooting (now 2 dead)
Published: 12/22 12:01 am
Updated: 12/22 5:17 pm
Oroville Police are searching for Derrik Blanton, who they say shot and killed one man and injured at least two others following a home invasion in Oroville.
It happened just before 8pm Wednesday night at an apartment complex on Mitchell Avenue. Authorities say Blanton went to the apartment, where he apparently knew the residents. An altercation erupted, and then Blanton fired six to ten shots.
A 48-year-old man was shot and killed. A woman was shot in the leg, and 58-year-old Charles Oberholtzer was shot in the chest and underwent surgery at Enloe Medical Center Wednesday night.
There may have been another woman, a fourth victim, who ran away but officers have not located her yet.
If you have any information on Derrik Blanton’s whereabouts, call Oroville Police.
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A prison realignment program will send low-level offenders to county jails, depriving the state of using them to help clear brush, cut fire lines and stop infernos from spreading.
By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
8:22 PM PST, December 24, 2011
Reporting from Sacramento
When Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature shifted responsibility for thousands of state prisoners to county jails, some authorities said it would mean more offenders on the streets breaking the law.
Few saw another possible peril: the loss of more than 1,500 inmate firefighters.
Since World War II, the state has relied on nonviolent offenders serving time for such crimes as burglary, drug possession and welfare fraud to help clear brush, cut fire lines and stop infernos from spreading.
Fire officials say the prisoners, selected from a pool of those who exhibit ideal behavior in custody, can be as much as half the manpower assigned to a large fire.
“When things get busy, it’s the first thing we run out of,” said Andy McMurry, deputy director of fire protection for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Now, the realignment of inmate custody, developed to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overcrowding must be reduced in state lockups, is expected to keep thousands of those low-level offenders in county jails, where many could be released early because space is scarce.
Fire officials say they can sustain the number of inmate crews for now, but their forces will begin to shrink in 2013. The reduction, if fully implemented, would cut the inmate firefighting ranks by nearly 40%, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which operates the program jointly with Cal Fire.
State corrections and fire officials are working with local governments to head off that scenario with a separate training program for county inmates. But at a legislative hearing this month, county and local law enforcement representatives balked at the price tag — $46 per inmate per day.
Rather than stockpiling nonviolent offenders in county jails, some sheriff’s departments are considering cheaper alternatives, such as releasing them with electronic monitoring.
“Some sheriffs feel they can get a better bang for their buck,” Curtis Hill, a lobbyist for the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., said at the hearing.
In addition, he said, some jurisdictions would rather have offenders doing manual labor than waiting around for a fire. Losing county inmates to fire crews would hurt “the capability of local communities to use that population for their own projects.”
The issue is of particular concern to the Republican lawmakers who represent some of the state’s most rural areas, which are more prone to wildfires.
State Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) wondered whether there would even be enough eligible inmates left in county prisons to volunteer for fire crews.
“If our lowest-level offenders have been ankle-braceleted and are out, how do we get them to come back?” he said at the hearing.
State officials countered that nonviolent offenders would continue to receive two days off their sentences for each day spent in a fire camp.
Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Riverside) said in an interview that maintaining inmate firefighting ranks is critical to public safety. Without them, he said, large fires would be likely to burn longer, causing more damage and increasing personnel costs.
“There really are no other resources,” said Jeffries, a former volunteer fire captain in Riverside County for nearly three decades. “It’s boots on the ground that put fires out. If you go beyond the utilization of inmates, the price tag goes up dramatically.”
Fire officials pledged to find a solution, arguing that the program’s benefit is significant to both the state and the prisoners.
“For a lot of them, it’s the first time they’ve done anything real positive in their lives,” said McMurry, the Cal Fire deputy. “It’s hard to put a dollar-and-cents figure on that.”
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The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A California parolee hiding from a SWAT team has fallen through the ceiling and into the arms of officers who lobbed tear gas into the attic.
The San Bernardino County Sun ( http://bit.ly/sdZZ3d) says 22-year-old Tommy Nelson barricaded himself inside a stranger’s apartment for more than five hours on Monday.
San Bernardino police Lt. David Harp says Nelson ran from gang squad officers and dropped a handgun before invading the apartment and ordering the family to leave at about 4:15 p.m.
A SWAT team was called in and officers tried to contact him for hours. Tear gas was eventually lobbed into the attic and a police dog was sent in to find him.
The lieutenant says Nelson began moving around and he fell through the ceiling at about 10 p.m.
He was arrested and booked for investigation of burglary, violating parole and being a felon with a handgun.
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|Written by Elizabeth Larson
|Thursday, 15 December 2011
|LAKEPORT, Calif. – County supervisors this week received an update on the state’s correctional realignment and what it means for Lake County, with the county’s acting chief probation officer warning of serious health and safety implications for community residents.
On Tuesday, acting Chief Probation Officer Steve Buchholz gave a report to the Board of Supervisors on realignment, which includes supervising new probationers and housing in the county jail prisoners who formerly would have served their time in state prison.
The state’s correctional realignment, which went into effect Oct. 1, is meant to reduce the state’s prison overcrowding, as well as to save the cash-strapped state money.
Buchholz was accompanied by staff from BI Incorporated, the company hired by the county to help monitor the new probationers and run a day reporting center at 1375 Hoyt Ave. in Lakeport.
That center will require offenders to comply with ongoing reporting, intensive treatment and training, testing for drug and alcohol use, and classes to change criminal thinking, according to a report from the company.
So far, 23 people have been released under Lake County Probation’s supervision, said Buchholz.
The state sent Buchholz’s office 51 information packets on probationers – including the 23 already released – with his staff completing assessments on 40 of those individuals, he said.
Buchholz shared his concern with the board that offenders being released were incorrectly categorized by the state as “nonviolent.”
In fact, 90 percent of those slated for release into the community are “high risk” offenders, Buchholz said. Only one is low risk, and three are moderate risk.
One of those slated for release has two contagious diseases and a history of violence against law enforcement. Buchholz said that individual was of such concern that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation actually called Lake County Probation to warn them about him.
Buchholz said state officials told his staff, “When this guy gets off the bus he’s going to be looking for victims.”
That subject is now sitting in another county’s jail after an existing warrant on him was found. However, Buchholz said the man could still be dropped off in Lake County.
Another individual brought to the county under realignment came from a secure housing unit at the state prison level. Within 48 hours of arriving in the county, he was using drugs and causing problems. Buchholz said he’s since been moved into residential treatment.
These so-called “nonviolent offenders,” said Buchholz, “are in fact, for the most part, a serious risk to our community.”
In addition to those probationers now under monitoring, Buchholz said here are 14 people who have been sentenced to county jail who formerly would have gone to state prison.
All 14 have been sentenced to straight jail time – not a split sentence where part is spent on supervision, he said. A 15th case currently is in court where the judge and attorneys have agreed it will be a split sentence, with four years in county jail and four years of supervision.
Regarding parolees who violated their release terms, Buchholz said 54 such individuals have been booked into the Lake County Jail since Oct. 1.
Formerly, they would have been sent back to state prison for a time, but now they will serve their sentence for parole violation in the county jail, he said.
Among the new responsibilities being handled by Lake County Probation, Buchholz said his staff now is expected to help with transporting prisoners from the prison system, a task that he said can be very time consuming.
He said some of those coming from prison have severe mental and physical health issues, and will impact the county’s mental health and public health resources.
Buchholz said eight of the 23 individuals released into the county so far are transient and homeless.
“That’s another issue that we’re fighting,” he said.
Concerns about needs exceeding resources
He said 18 of those released have been in enrolled in BI Incorporated’s day reporting center, which has a total of 50 slots.
Buchholz said he is very concerned about those numbers. He predicted that the day reporting center’s 50 slots, as well as the 50 slots in the Jail Employment Education Program that BI Inc. will oversee at the Lake County Jail, could quickly fill up and be exceeded by the need resulting from the realignment.
“Virtually every day something new comes up,” he said of the time-consuming experience in adjusting to realignment. “This is a learning experience for everyone, even those at the state level.”
BI Incorporated officials told the board they had hired six of eight new staff members locally, would begin seeing clients on Thursday and planned to hire two additional staffers for a satellite office to be opened in Clearlake in January.
They reported seeing a high number of individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues, and in response to a large number of American Indian clients have hired Pomo tribal member Thomas Brown to work with them.
Buchholz predicted the county would have 71 parolees under its supervision by the end of the fiscal year, which occurs June 30. Another 80 to 90 individuals who would have gone to prison likely will end up serving their time in the Lake County Jail.
“As time goes on it’s the proverbial snowball,” he said.
Supervisor Anthony Farrington asked why BI Incorporated’s facilities were located in Lakeport and not in Clearlake. Buchholz said they couldn’t find a suitable place in Clearlake, and saved money by having them locate in a county building in Lakeport.
Farrington said he guessed their caseload would be higher in the Northshore and Clearlake areas. Buchholz replied that 57 percent of the caseload of those under supervision live in the area from Middletown to Clearlake Oaks, with the rest of the county home to the other 43 percent.
He also reported that two people who were to be released in the county did not report to Lake County Probation as required. Buchholz said they were “in the wind.”
Supervisor Rob Brown pointed to a recent case where a parolee in another county was released as part of the realignment, only to kill someone shortly afterward.
Buchholz acknowledged that there are some extremely dangerous and violent people being released. He said he doesn’t expect some of those people to respond to the local programs in place to deal with them, but he said some will make positive changes.
Supervisor Denise Rushing asked BI Incorporated about measures that work, and they offered a brief overview of using evidence-based risk needs assessments to do targeted interventions.
Brown was unconvinced. “I don’t want to belabor this, because I think we all know what a disaster this is.”
He said convicts have chosen to be where they are. “We’re wasting resources on something that will be a miserable failure at the end of the day,” he said.
Supervisor Jeff Smith said he appreciated what Lake County Probation was trying to do, and he hopes it works.
Buchholz said he thinks there will be some successes as well as failures, adding that the money the state has allocated to the county for realignment – which he said in a previous interview with Lake County News was about $840,000 – won’t be even close to what is needed.
Brown condemned the realignment, which he predicted the public will tire of quickly.
“The public is much less safe as a result of it,” he said.
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The Associated Press
Posted: 12/13/2011 04:56:37 PM PST
Updated: 12/13/2011 04:56:37 PM PST
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—A California inmate is back on medical parole despite committing lewd acts days after he was first released in November.
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Fifty-six-year-old Peter Post was sent to a San Diego-area long-term care facility Nov. 3 after he was found to be permanently physically incapacitated after a brain injury. Post, who was in prison for burglary, was returned to a secure medical facility a week later after exposing himself and committing a sex act in front of female nurses.
Corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Tuesday that parole officials decided Post still meets medical parole criteria. He was sent back to the private facility last week.
She says parole officials “looked at whether he had the mental capacity to understand the consequences of his actions.”
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Los Angeles Times
Published Friday, Dec. 09, 2011
LOS ANGELES — The early release of inmates in some parts of California is accelerating as officials at county jails struggle to accommodate state prisoners flowing into their facilities.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department planned to begin releasing about 150 inmates Friday because of overcrowding in county jails.
Sheriff Rod Hoops has decided to release the inmates, mostly parole violators or those convicted of nonviolent crimes, over the next five days. The inmates must have served at least half of their sentence, and have less than 30 days remaining on their sentence.
The move is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the state to lower its prison population by 30,000. To meet the mandate, those convicted of certain crimes who until now served their sentences in state prison now must serve their time in a county jail. No inmates are being moved from state prisons to county jails. But as these people are sentenced, they will be sent to a county jail rather than state prison.
San Bernardino is believed to be the largest county to start early releases since the so-called prisoner realignment began. Kern County made a similar move last month.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is hoping to deal with the influx of state prisoners by developing alternatives to custody – such as electronic monitoring – for low-risk offenders awaiting trial.
L.A. County’s jails are expected to house as many as 8,000 state prisoners by mid-2012. Los Angeles County prosecutors said in a report that the numbers could fill up the jails as early as this month.
But sheriff’s officials said they don’t expect capacity to be reached until summer at the earliest.
“I don’t know what the turning point is going to be, but I don’t think the sky is going to fall,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Chief Alex Yim. “We are looking for a measured amount of growth in the jail population. So we are ramping up programs like electronic monitoring and work release now.”
Up until now, San Bernardino County managed to keep its jails from overcrowding through work release and other programs. But with the system rapidly approaching capacity, the sheriff opted to make more room for new arrestees and higher-priority inmates.
The parole violators being released will have their criminal and custody history examined, and they will be placed under the supervision of state parole officers.
Some counties, including Los Angeles, are under court order to prevent jail overcrowding. So officials said that some inmates will be released to make way for the state prisoners.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has warned that none of the alternatives is ideal. Hutchens said, for example, that she’s unsure how many inmates can be trusted to serve time wearing GPS-monitored bracelets.
So far, some counties – including Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino – have reported receiving significantly more state prisoners from courts than the state projected.
State officials and some sheriffs believe the higher-than-projected number of state prisoners being sent to jails has occurred in part because defense attorneys waited until realignment took effect to settle their clients’ cases. By doing that, the attorneys were assured that their clients would get jail time instead of prison time.
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Prison realignment leading to overcrowding
Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 12/08/2011 07:43:30 PM PST
Updated: 12/09/2011 06:33:41 PM PST
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One-hundred-fifty parole violators could get an early release from county jails in the next several days so deputies can handle jail overcrowding that the Sheriff’s Department says is due to state prison-realignment plans.The county inmates will be released from today through Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Department announced late Thursday in a news release.
Those inmates who are released will fall under the immediate supervision of state parole officers, who are under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
County jails have experienced a rise in inmates since the prison realignment began Oct. 1, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
A wide range of criminals, who would have served their sentences in state custody, now remain in the sheriff’s custody to serve their sentences. Additionally, a number of parole violators who would have served their time in state prison are also in county custody.
“Because of these dynamics, the county jail system is rapidly approaching capacity, and it has therefore become necessary to adjust the inmate population in such a way that room is made for new arrestees and higher-priority inmates,” the news release states.
Early release will be granted only to those parole violators who have already served at least half of their sentence and have less than 30 days remaining.
Other criteria being considered are the inmates’ criminal history and their conduct while in custody.
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By Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Area Newspapers
Posted Dec 07, 2011 @ 12:05 PM
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Siskiyou County, Calif. —
Two months after the state’s public safety realignment plan went into effect, Siskiyou County is seeing an influx of inmates at a rate faster than expected.
With limited resources at the Siskiyou County Probation Department and a jail that’s constantly at or near capacity, local officials are hiring additional staff and fighting for state funding to possibly build a larger jail.
When the law went into effect Oct. 1, 2011, Siskiyou County’s chief probation officer Todd Heie was expecting 15 prisoners to be released to the custody of his department by the end of the year.
As of Thursday, he’d received 22 packets for “post-release community supervision” prisoners, or PRCS, that were to be released to Siskiyou by Dec. 31.
With the pace at which the packets have been arriving, Heie expects the number to be even higher by year’s end.
Sheriff Jon Lopey said he expected to receive around 72 PRCS over the next two to three years, but based on the number of packets already received, “It appears we are getting more people than we anticipated.”
Heie said Siskiyou County probation officers already have caseloads that are “higher than they optimally should be,” and to help compensate for the influx, he recently got approval to hire one more officer who will begin around Jan. 1. He’s also trying to get approval for two probation aids to free up officers to provide added probation supervision.
What realignment does
Realignment shifts responsibility from the state to individual counties for the incarceration, treatment and parole of lower level criminals. The law came primarily as a result of the state’s budget deficit and a US Supreme Court order that requires California to reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates.
AB 109 applies only to those convicted after Oct. 1 and specifically targets non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offender inmates, such as those convicted of crimes related to property, public order, drugs and domestic violence. Sex offenders like recently convicted Kody Kaplon and William Bracken as well as attempted murder cases like Arnold Maynard Aggas will still spend their time in state prisons.
While 30,000 to 40,000 PRCS will be released to the state’s 58 counties over the next five years, AB 109 also changes the definition of a felony, so those sentenced to less than 16 months in custody will spend their time in county jails rather than state prisons such as High Desert or San Quentin.
Challenges for Siskiyou
Heie said his department has done their own risk assessments on each person for which they’ve received a packet – the packet comes about 30 days before release – and has identified almost each one as a high-risk parolee. While the PRCS are coming out on non-violent charges, the majority have a serious infraction in their past and pose a high risk of recidivism, he said.
According to statistics from Governor Jerry Brown’s office, approximately seven out of every 10 inmates paroled in California commit a new crime within three years – a recidivism rate which is well above national average.
The Siskiyou County Jail has 107 beds, with three designated for medical use, Lopey explained. The majority of its inmates are pre-trial felons, which leaves little room for those who would serve jail time instead of prison time if they violate their parole.
At this time, nine such parolees are serving time in Siskiyou County Jail, Heie said.
Those who commit misdemeanors are regularly cited then sent home to await their court date.
Though he knows it will be a challenge, Heie said “the sky isn’t falling” and with the additional probation officer, his department – which is already used to heavy caseloads – will be able to handle the influx.
“This is a significant burden for local county jails traditionally shouldered by state parole and the state prison system,” Lopey said.
Realignment also means alternate sentencing programs will need to be expanded, such as substance abuse, anger management, parenting, education and re-entry programs.
To formulate a plan for realignment and to allocate state funding to the appropriate departments and organizations, the Siskiyou County Community Corrections Partnership has been formed. Voting members include District Attorney Kirk Andrus, Judge Laura Masunaga, Public Defender Lael Kayfetz, Director of Social Services Michael Noda, Weed Police Chief Martin Nicholas, Lopey and Heie.
At this time, an exact plan has not been approved.
Lopey is concerned that if things continue as they have been, even with effective alternative sentencing programs, the current jail will be inadequate.
Across California, counties have been struggling with the influx of parolees. There are reports of inmates having to sleep on jail floors until beds are available in Orange County. In Fresno County, parole violators are no longer being jailed in order to avoid overcrowding, and Los Angeles County is projecting that its more than 22,000 jail beds could be full within a few months.
To prevent complications like these, Lopey has been pursuing grant funding for a new jail.
On Thursday, Lopey said Siskiyou County has been selected to compete for the next phase of AB 900 jail funding. An application will be submitted to the Corrections Standards Authority in January, and if approved, a new jail would be built within three or four years.
“A new jail… would increase our jail bed capacity to meet realignment and all other facility requirements for 20 to 30 years,” Lopey said.
– By Jaime Gentner and Skye Kinkade
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