FROM Don Specter
Stand-Off between the Courts, Governor on Prison Overcrowding In 20011, the US Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California's prisons was " cruel and unusual punishment " with suicidal inmates held in cages without toilets and with treatment unavailable to the one-third who are mentally ill. The population was 200 percent larger than the prisons were designed for, and the court gave Governor Brown two years to reduce that to 137.5 percent. He created " realignment ." Inmates convicted of non-violent, non-sexual or non-serious state crimes are being sent to county jails instead of state prisons, which has cut overcrowding to 150 percent. Brown says is good enough. Now lower courts are threatening to hold him in contempt if he doesn't meet their standard by the end of next week.
Does California's Parole System Need to Be Rebuilt? Lovelle Mixon was a 26-year-old former janitor who killed four Oakland policemen last Saturday afternoon. Two had pulled him over for a routine traffic stop. The others were SWAT officers who stormed an apartment where Mixon was hiding. Mixon, who also was killed by gunfire, had been on parole since November. He had eight contacts with his parole officer after his release, but then missed several appointments. He had been declared a parole violator and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. The killing has focused attention on parole system that even some state officials agree hasn’t been working for years. What’s wrong? What are prospects for change?
California’s New Prisons Chief Gang violence, the lack of rehabilitation programs and sentencing laws like three strikes and you’re out have California prisons dangerously over-crowded. A federal judge says the health system is so bad it’s unconstitutional. Fixing it all will cost billions of dollars, at a time when the state is cutting back on education because of a 15 billion dollar deficit. To preside over an impending disaster, Governor Schwarzenegger has appointed his 4th Secretary of Corrections in just five years.
Panel Will Address Prison Overcrowding The overcrowding of California’s state prisons led Governor Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency late last year . Yesterday, two federal judges ruled simultaneously that he and the legislature are not doing enough to correct the conditions that violate the Constitution. More than 170,000 inmates are crammed into a space built for 135,000. If the courts decide to cap the prison population, 35,000 prisoners could be released early.
Are California Prisons in for a Fix? California prisons now house 172,000 inmates--twice as many as they were designed to house. The healthcare system is so bad it's in federal receivership. Two federal judges have given the state until June to get a handle on overcrowding and improve conditions or face a cap on the prison population. The Sacramento Bee reports that Governor Schwarzenegger met yesterday with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, the second such meeting in less than three weeks and one that brought them close to agreement. The Governor wants to build more prisons , but that can't be done soon enough to meet the June deadline. We speak with a prisoner advocate and the head of the state prison system about possible alternatives.
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.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?