By Cristina Corbin
Published June 25, 2014
Nearly 60 years after a neighbor snatched toddler Sharon Duvernay from her family’s backyard and raped her, the now-retired school teacher is getting a new neighbor — the infamous “Pillowcase Rapist,” a serial sex offender responsible for at least 40 attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.
Christopher Hubbart, 63, who confessed to raping at least 40 women in Los Angeles and San Francisco between 1971 and 1982, will be released from a state psychiatric facility and placed in a home in Lake Los Angeles by July 7, Capt. Don Ford of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, a subdivision of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, told FoxNews.com Wednesday.
Hubbart will reside in a small, one-story white house in a neighborhood off Avenue R and 203rd Street in Lake Los Angeles, a rural, desert community in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County where Hollywood movies and commercials were once made.
“I don’t think about it everyday but certainly with him coming I do…I’m terrified.”
– Sharon Duvernay
While sheriff’s deputies have pledged to do all they can to ensure safety, residents are daunted by the imminent release of Hubbart, who earned his grim moniker for the method of his crimes: binding victims’ hands before pulling pillowcases over their heads to silence their screams.
For Duvernay, the news of Hubbart’s placement brought back a trauma the former elementary school teacher had worked her entire life to overcome. Duvernay recounted how she was kidnapped and raped in 1955 when she was just three by a neighbor in New Orleans. The attack prompted Duvernay, the youngest of five, and her parents to relocate to California.
“The pain never goes away,” said 62-year-old Duvernay, who lives on five acres and who will become Hubbart’s closest neighbor. “I don’t think about it everyday but certainly with him coming I do…I’m terrified.”
“It’s just so ironic. His patterns are exactly like the guy who attacked me,” she said. “We tried to do everything within the law to keep him from moving here. We collected more than 12,000 letters to the judge.”
Duvernay, who now wants to move, said she plans to buy guard dogs and update her security system as well as install cameras on all sides of her home.
“We’re putting better lighting everywhere and we’re thinking about barb-wired or razor-wired fencing,” she said. “Regular activities, like taking out the trash, and every little noise will put me on high alert.”
“He [Hubbart] was released once and he raped 19 women,” Duvernay said. “The second time he was released, he tried to pull a jogger into the bushes. I think he’s very ill and has no impulse control. He will absolutely try to do this again.”
Hubbart has been confined to a mental health facility since 1996. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey petitioned the state Supreme Court in July 2013 to block Hubbart’s release, but the court denied her request, prompting widespread protests from residents.
“Mr. Hubbart, we believe, is still a very dangerous man,” Ford said. “Although he’s been in prison for a long time and received mental health treatment, we know from experience that people can repeat their offenses.”
“Sexual offenders can do well in a controlled setting,” he told FoxNews.com. “But when given more freedom, the risk for a repeat offense increases.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Ford, alluding to repeat assaults by Hubbart after he was released from a state hospital in 1979. He was later convicted for assaults in the San Francisco area and readmitted to a mental health facility. Following his parole in 1990, he attacked a female jogger and was imprisoned again.
Law enforcement declined to release the name of the landlord who is renting the property to Liberty Health Care, the company responsible for monitoring Hubbart for several weeks after his release. Plans for Hubbart to live in another home in the same community were scuttled amid neighborhood opposition, but the unidentified owner of the house where Hubbart will live has a strong incentive to rent it through the state, according to Palmdale Mayor James Ledford. He told The Associated Press the state would pay about $2,400 per month for a home that would normally rent for just $500.
Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance, said Hubbart does not belong outside of prison.
“The fact that he’s been paroled once before and was unable to behave is of grave concern,” Ward said. “I am shocked that he is being released into a residential community. My hope is that he will be very closely supervised.”
Hubbart will not be on probation or parole, law enforcement says, but he will wear a GPS ankle bracelet and register as a sex offender with the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, one of 23 subdivisions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department directly tasked with security matters surrounding Hubbart.
“Clearly this wasn’t our choice for placement either,” said Capt. Patrick Nelson of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. “But we’re confident we have a good response plan, at least for the first portion of the reintegration when he [Hubbart] will have 24-hour supervision” by a state contractor who supervises sexually violent predators.
Nelson and Ford, who works from neighboring Palmdale, both said that Hubbart will be “very closely monitored” and that additional patrols of the area will be conducted.
“The ankle bracelet tells us where he is, but not what he’s doing,” Ford said. “He’s free to go anywhere.”
“We’re asking the public to educate themselves on Mr. Hubbart and what he looks like,” he said, while also noting that, “We want to make sure nobody unfairly attacks Mr. Hubbart and takes the law into their own hands.”
Denise Squires, another Lake Los Angeles resident, echoed Duvernay’s concerns.
“I’m afraid for myself, for my daughters and my granddaughters,” she said Wednesday. “After all the protest, I was shocked by the news and very surprised to see them fixing up his house with taxpayer money.”
Squires, an area resident for 28 years, said she has “zero” confidence in law enforcement’s supervision of Hubbart.
“It’s very isolated out here and we don’t have enough patrolling to begin with,” she said. “I’ll be looking over my shoulder every place I go. He [Hubbart] looks like an everyday guy. I would never know if he were standing right next to me.”
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Published: Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 – 11:15 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 – 8:05 am
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A panel of federal judges Monday gave California two more years to cut its prison population to a level originally ordered in 2009, a move that once again gives the state more breathing room to comply, but also establishes a non-negotiable deadline.
Under Monday’s order, the state has until Feb. 28, 2016, to reduce the inmate population in its 34 adult prisons – designed to hold 81,574 inmates – to 137.5 percent of its current design capacity. State prisons now house roughly 117,600 inmates. The order requires the number to be reduced to 112,164 and bars the state from sending inmates to out-of-state prisons to get to that level.
The order essentially adopts a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that promised the judges the state would not seek further delays or court appeals if an extension was granted.
The order comes from a specially created three-judge court consisting of 9th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Judge Thelton E. Henderson of the San Francisco-based Northern District of California, and Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the Sacramento-based Eastern District of California. The panel found in 2009 that overcrowding in California’s adult prisons has pulled the quality of medical and mental health care for inmates well below constitutional standards.
The three judges acknowledged they were “reluctant” to grant yet another extension of an order originally issued in August 2009. But they added that promises from the state not to further appeal a case that has twice been to the U. S. Supreme Court will help achieve the “durable solution” to overcrowding that has harmed the state’s ability to provide a level of medical and mental health care to inmates that is not “cruel and unusual.”
“This should bring an end to defendants’ continual appeals and requests for modifications of this Court’s orders,” the judges wrote.
The order is a win for Brown, who is expected to seek re-election and already is facing criticism over his “realignment” program that shifted responsibility for nonviolent, low-level offenders from prisons to county jails.
In January 2013, Brown declared that the state had done enough to reduce its inmate population and asked the court to return oversight of the state’s prisons to California, something the judges rejected.
On Monday, after more than a year of intense legal fights, the governor indicated he was pleased with the decision.
“It is encouraging that the Three-Judge Court has agreed to a two-year extension,” Brown said in a statement. “The state now has the time and resources necessary to help inmates become productive members of society and make our communities safer.”
The order also is a victory for Senate Democrats who championed the idea last summer of restricting prison expansion in favor of sentencing reform and enhanced rehabilitation programs to reduce the number of inmates, something Brown initially opposed.
“I’m very pleased,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in an interview from Washington, D.C. “It’s what we’ve been pushing for since August.
“It was very clear back during the summer that the choices were pretty untenable: release people early or spend hundreds of millions of dollars to lease jail space outside our existing prisons.”
But the order is a setback for attorneys for the state’s mentally and medically ill inmates, who have argued that immediate population reductions are needed to combat high suicide rates, deaths from lax treatment, and related chronic staffing shortages in the prisons’ medical and mental health treatment units.
“We’re disappointed that the court didn’t order the state to comply with the Supreme Court’s order more quickly,” said Don Specter, director of the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, which has been in the forefront of the fight to improve the lot of inmates. “The conditions are still overcrowded and it’s still cruel and unusual punishment.”
Specter, whose staff and co-counsel had won a string of legal victories over the state until Monday, said no decision had been made yet on whether an appeal will be filed. Any appeal from the three-judge court goes directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The deadline extension “is dangerous and unjustified,” declared Michael Bien, lead counsel for the inmates. He cited a recent series of hearings before Karlton on the handling of mentally ill inmates as proof that “the violations (of previous court orders) are so extreme that it is dangerous to do this. People are dying all the time. I hope the state takes this undeserved opportunity to improve the unconstitutional conditions that persist, but there’s no assurance it will.”
Others warned that the judges’ order eventually could increase crime.
“This court order is tragic; it turns our justice system upside down,” state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said in a statement.
“Once released, these dangerous felons will threaten our local communities, where residents are already suffering from increased crime and where police agencies are overburdened,” added Nielsen, a former chair of the state Board of Prison Terms.
The judges said the reductions to be achieved over the next two years can come from immediately increasing good time credits for nonviolent, second-strike offenders and minimum-custody inmates, expanding parole for medically incapacitated inmates, creating new rules to allow for parole hearings for inmates 60 and older who have served at least 25 years, and from other means.
The panel also noted that Brown’s administration has agreed to consider establishing a commission to reform state sentencing laws and wrote that the extension will allow for hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds to be directed at a “recidivism reduction fund” rather than housing more inmates.
But, an obviously agitated Bien said: “There is nothing in the order mandating a revision of the state’s criminal justice policies. It’s just maybe this and maybe that.”
The judges also indicated that it will not allow California to increase its use of out-of-state prisons, where 8,900 inmates currently are housed and where the state had said it would send many more if ordered to immediately meet the population cut.
“This solution is neither durable nor desirable,” the judges wrote of using more out-of-state prison cells. “It would result in thousands of prisoners being incarcerated hundreds or thousands of miles from the support of their families, and in hundreds of millions of dollars that could be spent on long-lasting prison reform being spent instead on temporarily housing prisoners in out-of-state facilities.”
The judges have noted repeatedly that they take a dim view of the state’s foot-dragging in complying with their orders, and in Monday’s order they wrote that California officials have failed to adopt any of the measures the judges have approved, other than the realignment plan Brown enacted to reduce prison populations by tens of thousands of inmates.
They made clear in their order that they expect the state to meet certain deadlines and said they would appoint a “compliance officer” to ensure it does so.
That officer will make sure the state reduces the inmate population to 143 percent of design capacity by June 30 (116,651 inmates); to 141.5 percent by Feb. 28, 2015 (115,427 inmates); and to 137.5 percent a year after that (112,164 inmates).
The compliance officer will have authority to release the necessary number of inmates to meet those levels if the state misses any of the benchmarks, and the judges conceded that they should have acted more forcefully and sooner to deal with prison overcrowding.
“We recognize that these measures should have been adopted much earlier, that (inmates’) lawyers have made unceasing efforts to obtain immediate relief on behalf of their clients, and that California prisoners deserve far better treatment than they have received from (the state) over the past four and a half years,” the judges wrote. “Similarly, California’s citizens have incurred far greater costs, both financial and otherwise, as a result of (the state’s) heretofore unyielding resistance to compliance with this court’s orders.”
The appointment of a compliance officer is the only positive part of the order from Bien’s point of view.
“To that extent,” he said, “it represents the judges’ frustration with the state’s defiance and their reluctance, for whatever reason, to utilize their powers of contempt.”
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Posted: 05/31/2013 06:25:47 AM PDT
Updated: 05/31/2013 06:25:55 AM PDT
Ensuring California’s death penalty system remains in limbo for the foreseeable future, a state appeals court on Thursday scrapped the state’s latest attempt to update its lethal injection procedures.
In a 28-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal found that state prison officials failed to comply with administrative rules when crafting new regulations more than two years ago.
The unanimous decision of the three-justice panel sends California back to the drawing board, unless the Brown administration takes the case to the California Supreme Court and keeps more than 700 Death Row inmates on an indefinite reprieve.
The appeals court upheld a Marin County judge, who faulted the prison department
The view a condemned inmate would have from a table inside the death chamber is shown during a 2010 tour of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison. (Eric Risberg/AP file)
for a variety of procedural missteps, including offering no public explanation for why San Quentin officials opted to continue with a three-drug lethal injection method instead of a single-drug execution option being embraced by a number of other states.State officials have indicated in court papers they are exploring the single-drug option, which involves putting condemned inmates to death with one dose of a sedative. Ohio, Washington and Arizona are among the states that have moved to that option to short circuit legal challenges to the three-drug method.
A prison spokesman said state officials are reviewing the ruling but have not decided how to proceed.
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said the ruling was not surprising, although he disputed the court’s finding that violating the administrative rules justifies halting executions. Switching to the single-drug method should thwart further legal challenges to California’s lethal injection procedures, he said.
However, even if the Brown administration moves to single-drug executions, prisons will again have to comply with the administrative procedures to institute the new method, a process that can take more than a year. And states across the country, including California, are struggling to assemble supplies of execution drugs because of resistance from drug manufacturers and other problems.
California has had a moratorium on executions since 2006 as a result of legal challenges to its execution procedures in both the state and federal courts. Death Row has more than 725 inmates awaiting execution, including more than a dozen who have exhausted their legal appeals and would be eligible for immediate execution. Several of those inmates have mounted the lethal-injection court challenges.
In response to a federal judge’s concerns, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Gov. Jerry Brown have both tried to overhaul the state’s lethal injections, revising training for execution team members and building a new execution facility at San Quentin. But the state’s updates have been blocked twice for violating the administrative code, for the most part by failing to offer adequate public review of the proposed changes.
State Justice J. Anthony Kline, writing for the appeals court on Thursday, found California again violated the administrative rules in 2010, rejecting the state’s argument that more than 20,000 comments were submitted and public hearings were held to consider its new lethal injection procedures. The appeals court concluded that the public did not receive all the necessary information, particularly surrounding the prison system’s decision to stick to the three-drug method, which has been challenged because of concerns it can result in a cruel and painful death.
“The public that participated in the (prison system’s) rule-making process was not so fully informed,” the appeals court wrote.
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June 15, 2012
Thirty-six years ago, three men kidnapped a bus full of schoolchildren for ransom before entombing them in a San Joaquin Valley rock quarry.
The 1976 crime has become part of California lore — and many of those in the small town of Chowchilla, where it happened, thought those responsible would stay behind bars for life. But later this month, one of the three kidnappers will be a free man.
A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Richard Schoenfeld’s release became necessary after the state Supreme Court decided not to intercede in a lower court’s decision to release Schoenfeld. The state parole board had initially hoped to keep him behind bars at least until 2021, but the appellate court deemed the board’s formula of two years for every victim unfair.
Schoenfeld, the youngest of the three kidnappers, went to prison at age 22. He, his brother and another young man — all from wealthy families — kidnapped a school bus carrying 26 schoolchildren and their driver and buried them in the largest kidnapping for ransom in U.S. history.
The kidnappers made each victim climb down a ladder into a buried moving van equipped with two air tubes. Along one wall were dirty mattresses and containers of water. The men then poured dirt over the van.
All of the victims survived despite about 16 hours underground, but word in recent years that Schoenfeld might be granted parole disturbed many in Chowchilla.
For security reasons, authorities declined to say when or where Schoenfeld, 58, would be released, other than that it would be this month. He has been serving his time at a state prison in San Luis Obispo, along with his two accomplices.
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Published Wednesday, Feb. 08, 2012
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is far more likely to allow the release of paroled killers from prison than either of California’s two previous governors, newly released records show.
Brown let stand 331 of 405 – roughly 82 percent – of decisions to parole convicted killers by the state Board of Parole Hearings last year, according to an annual report to the Legislature released Tuesday.
By comparison, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger permitted the release of only about 27 percent of paroled killers, while Democratic Gov. Gray Davis’ numbers were even lower – about 2 percent.
California’s governor has a constitutional right to affirm, modify or reverse such parole board decisions. Brown reversed 71, modified one, and sent two back to the board to reconsider.
“Where he finds that an inmate continues to pose a threat to the public, he exercises his authority to block the board’s grant of parole,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.
Chris Fowler, convicted in Yolo County of second-degree murder in 1983 for killing his girlfriend’s 22-month-old son during a fit of rage, was one offender whose parole was overturned by Brown.
Though Fowler has an exemplary prison record of participation in education, ministry, self-help and Alcoholics Anonymous programs, Brown concluded that his crime was “appalling and senseless” and that no credible explanation had been offered for it.
“The utter inhumanity of Mr. Fowler’s crime coupled with his inability or unwillingness to understand, own or achieve some credible level of insight tells me that there is substantial risk of danger to the public were he to be released from prison,” Brown wrote.
Brown’s lone parole modification last year involved a Garden Grove murder case in which Tung Nguyen had been given a release date of Aug. 12, 2023.
Brown concluded that Nguyen’s “exceptional rehabilitation dictates that he should receive an immediate release on parole.”
Nguyen had held a knife to one person and acted as a lookout during a fight between two groups of people that ended in one death.
In separate action, Brown pardoned 21 people who were released from prison more than a decade ago and have had clean criminal records since then.
Of Brown’s 21 pardons, 17 involved drug offenses – marijuana was cited in six, cocaine in five, and methamphetamine in two. The other offenses were criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property and two burglaries.
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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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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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By Jim Nielsen | 11/23/11 12:00 AM PST
As a public official, I believe it is my responsibility to advocate for the best policies for the people of California. As Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I know firsthand that there are always tough choices when it comes to making budget decisions during state budget negotiations, which are often the result of bipartisan compromise.
In my view, Californians shouldn’t have to live in fear in their own homes and communities as they are today because the state is facing budget problems.
When it comes to the Public Safety Realignment passed with Assembly Bill 109, I refuse to be a party to a reckless proposal that may lead to victimization of hundreds of thousands of our families and neighbors.
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Those who supported this inmate release plan, which took effect October 1st, claim that it will save the state money since we will be moving non-dangerous criminals out of prisons funded by the state and into locally funded facilities. In reality, realignment is permanently dumping un-rehabilitated inmates and parolees that are now rightly state responsibilities and mandates into our communities, based on the hollow promises of stable funding. In my opinion, realignment is really about first shifting the burden to local governments, then forcing local governments to raise taxes to fund the release of thousands of serious criminals. There’s a bill in process to do just that.
As was emphasized during last week’s panel by Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, one of the main problems with this realignment plan is that with very limited space available in county jails, tens of thousands of un-rehabilitated felons and parolees will remain virtually unsupervised in our communities prior to serving their full sentence and justice being served. They will face diminished to no consequences for continuing their victimization of society.
The only thing crime victims can find comfort in is justice. Allowing criminals the reward of early release or no punishments denies even this insufficient peace of mind.
During the years that I served as the head of the State Parole Board, I had the chance to witness tens of thousands of dangerous individuals whose crimes have left scars in the lives of many innocent people. Many of them were given the opportunity to change their ways through various rehabilitation programs. Believe me, I would be happy to report that many if not most have had a change of heart and have changed their ways. But in reality, very few make the decision to change and to stop being a threat to those around them.
In pushing his dangerous realignment scheme, perhaps the governor is fulfilling what he wanted to do when he was first elected to office 36 years ago. Back then, he signed the Determinate Sentence Law to show leniency to thousands of criminals under the misguided notion that they are somehow victims of societal problems beyond their control. Ironically enough, an attitude like this does not serve those who have broken the law. It is not by making excuses for them that people will summon the courage to change a harmful behavioral pattern. As a society, it does not serve us well to justify and condone deviant behavior as this realignment aims to do.
The realignment plan is dangerous for our public safety. The only way to improve it is to repeal it and start all over. The elements of a new plan should include ensuring justice for victims, distinguishing those who remain a danger and those who do not, guaranteeing accountability from those who continue to victimize; providing sufficient jail and prison space consistent with the decision of the court, to afford a ‘phase-in’ rather than a ‘dump’ of inmates/parolees shifts commensurate with increased and improved rehabilitation opportunities in the community.
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The judge voices shock at Dr. Conrad Murray’s lack of remorse and criticizes the physician for recent comments suggesting Michael Jackson ‘entrapped’ him.
By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2011
The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray in the drug overdose death of Michael Jackson ended with a resounding rebuke from the trial judge, who lambasted his treatment as “money for medicine madness.”
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, in sentencing Murray to the maximum of four years on Tuesday, expressed shock over the doctor’s lack of remorse and criticized him for recently televised comments suggesting that the singer had “entrapped” him.
“Yipes! Talk about blaming the victim,” Pastor declared before sentencing Murray after the seven-week trial. “Not only isn’t there any remorse, there is umbrage and outrage on the part of Dr. Murray against the decedent.”
The judge described Murray’s use of a surgical anesthetic for insomnia as “horrible medicine” practiced by someone more concerned with collecting his $150,000-a-month salary than following the Hippocratic oath. He said he was astounded to hear the doctor say in a documentary broadcast earlier this month, “I do not feel guilty because I did not do anything wrong.”
“He has absolutely no sense of remorse, absolutely no sense of fault and is and remains dangerous,” Pastor said.
After the angry upbraiding, the judge imposed the statutory maximum — four years behind bars. But under a new state law, Murray will serve that sentence in L.A. County Jail rather than in a state prison. The law, designed to put the state in compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision about conditions in state prisons, affects nonviolent offenders such as Murray.
Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the county Sheriff’s Department, said the most time Murray would spend in County Jail is two years under state sentencing guidelines.
Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Tuesday that he is concerned Murray might actually spend less time in jail if the sheriff is forced to release inmates early because of overcrowding. Sheriff’s officials said they have made no decision on whether there will be early releases.
The 58-year-old cardiologist, convicted Nov. 7, has lost or is in the process of losing medical licenses he holds in three states, and his lawyer mused in court Tuesday about the possibility of his working as a coffee barista or a Wal-Mart greeter. Jailers have classified Murray as “mentally disturbed” and “suicidal,” according to a probation report.
In court Tuesday, Murray blew kisses toward his girlfriend and mother in the spectator’s gallery but stared impassively as the judge dressed him down.
Jackson’s relatives opted not to address the judge, but Brian Panish, an attorney for matriarch Katherine Jackson, read a statement on the family’s behalf describing the impact of the performer’s 2009 death and saying they wanted justice but not revenge.
“As Michael’s parents, we never have imagined we would live to witness his passing. It is simply against the natural order of things,” the statement read.
“As his children, we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad,” it continued.
Katherine Jackson, 81, sat near four of her surviving children with her head bowed for much of the proceedings. In an interview with a probation officer collecting information for sentencing, she asked for the maximum penalty. “She noted that every morning he is the first thing she thinks about,” the official wrote.
Prosecutors had requested a state prison sentence, although they conceded to the judge that the new state law makes a jail term the only possible sentence. Cooley later said his office was contemplating an appeal of the sentence as a broader challenge to the new law.
“This is going to be the first of many high-publicity cases where the public is going to realize they were let down” by state legislators, he said.
Lead prosecutor David Walgren told the judge that rather than making one mistake, Murray had been “playing Russian roulette” with Jackson for two months leading up to his death. With the doctor’s nightly administering of propofol “in that reckless, obscene manner, Michael Jackson’s life was put at risk,” Walgren said.
Murray’s defense unsuccessfully argued for probation. Attorney Ed Chernoff urged the judge to consider the “book” of Murray’s life rather than the single chapter of his work for Jackson. Highlighting the doctor’s rise from poverty in Trinidad and his charity work, he asked, “What about the rest of his life, what about before Michael Jackson asked for propofol, what about that?”
The judge said he was not persuaded by the lawyer’s arguments or 35 letters sent on Murray’s behalf by patients, family and friends. Pastor seized on the defense’s own metaphor, saying, “Regrettably the most significant chapter as it relates to this case is the chapter regarding treatment or lack of treatment of Michael Jackson.”
“It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment,” he said. Addressing a claim put forth throughout the trial by the defense, the judge said of the singer, “The fact that he participated in it does not excuse or lessen the blame of Dr. Murray, who simply could have walked away and said no, as countless others did.”
Pastor repeatedly spoke of failures in Murray’s character and said the piece of evidence that “stuck out the most” was a surreptitious recording the doctor made of a drug-addled Jackson.
“I have repeatedly asked myself: Why did this happen and for what reasons?” Pastor said. One conclusion, he said, was that Murray kept the recording to blackmail Jackson in case they had a falling-out. “That tape recording was Dr. Murray’s insurance policy.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to order Murray to pay Jackson’s heirs $100 million in anticipated earnings from canceled concerts. The judge said he needed more information about the estate’s calculation to make a decision.
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