FROM Michael Rushford
Crime and Punishment: Is It Time for Reform? After decades of “tough on crime” laws, the US has packed its prisons with young, black convicts for non-violent drug crimes. Many conservatives now agree a system that’s not working is not worth the cost, and the call for reform is becoming bipartisan. On Monday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 federal prisoners serving long sentences — including life -- for non-violent drug crimes. On Tuesday, he addressed the convention of the NAACP . Today he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, the El Reno Correctional Institution in Oklahoma, as part of a campaign to overhaul America’s justice system.
Can a Hunger Strike Force Changes in State Prisons? After months in the planning stage, 30,000 inmates in California prisons began refusing food on Monday in what they hope will come to be recognized by corrections department officials as another full-fledged hunger strike. One of the organizers of this week's action is Todd Ashker, who's recorded voice is on the website of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity group. Asker lives in a Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay up near the Oregon border – a windowless cells where he spends 22 and a half hours alone every day. He's been there for 27 years.
A Change of Heart on California's Killers "The Briggs death penalty law in California simply doesn't work." That's according to Ron Briggs, who wrote the law, along with his father, then State Senator John Briggs, in 1977. It was passed by the voters in 1978. Ron, who's now in his second term as Supervisor of El Dorado County, is endorsing the SAFE California campaign, which would replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. We hear from Briggs and others.
Can California Still Afford the Capital Punishment? Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, thirteen condemned inmates have been executed in California. At least 56 have died from illness, suicide or natural causes. No less than 713 now live on Death Row, and last week, Governor Brown cancelled a $356 million plan to build a new facility. Now his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has put off any further attempt at an execution at least until next year.
It's OJ, All Over Again Former football star OJ Simpson has been acquitted of murder and convicted of wrongful death. Now he’s charged with ten felony counts, including kidnapping and murder. Reporters who covered the first two trials and lawyers who rode the case to fame on TV showed up in Las Vegas today to see Simpson released on bail for $125,000 dollars. It was a circus atmosphere including Marcia Clark , the prosecutor who failed to convict Simpson of killing his wife and her friend, Ron Goldman . Clark was covering the story today for “ Entertainment Tonight .” Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images News
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.