NEW JAILS/LASD STORY COMING TOMORROW
ANYBODY GOT EARLY SIGN POSTS ON CRIME AND REALIGNMENT?
KPPC’S Julie Small reports that California’s prison population has dropped by 8000, mostly in response to California’s realignment strategy that began on Oct 1 and has resulted in the transfer of thousands of prisoners from state lock-up facilities to California’s counties.
Here’s a clip from Small’s report:
The number of inmates in California prisons has dropped by 8,000 since “realignment” took effect Oct. 1. Court papers state officials filed Thursday indicate the change. Officials reported the new numbers Thursday under a federal court order to reduce crowding in the prisons.
In its monthly status report to the court, officials said the state prison population dropped by 8,218 between Oct. 5 and Dec. 7.
California prison officials say the transfer of low-level felons to county officials that began in October will allow the state to meet a court-ordered reduction a month after a Dec. 27 deadline.
The state’s prison population has declined from a record high of 173,000 in 2006 to the current population of 135,000. But many prisons remain packed with almost twice the number of inmates they were designed to hold….
University of Ohio Law prof Doug Berman, of Sentencing, Law and Policy, also noted the drop and wondered in a post, if California was experiencing a “big new crime wave in California in recent months?”
The court order resulting in these prison reductions is the one upheld by the Supreme Courtin Plata earlier this year despite strenuous objections and dire warnings of Justices Alito and Scalia and others about a likely spike in crime as a result. I am thus wondering, given that it appears that California is going to be soon complying with this court order, if there is developing evidence of a new crime wave.
The question is particularly relevant in Los Angeles where approximately 40 percent of the “realigned” prisoners have landed, and will continue to land, causing a list of city officials like DA Steve Cooley and others to predict that crime will go up.
Admittedly, it hasn’t been all that long—nevertheless, do we have any early indications, one way or the other?
(NOTE: I can tell you that, far, overall crime is down this year over 2010, but I don’t, as yet, have a month by month breakdown for these past few months.
As Berman points out, nuanced analysis of crime stats would likely tell us a lot, because not every county and/or municipality is handling realignment the same way.
I sincerely hope that there is an on-going effort to track the public safety impact of the prison population reductions in California, especially because it seems that different localities are responding to the influx of former prisoners in different ways. The process of prison realignment is thus creating a kind of post-prison community reentry natural experiment, and I would expect spikes in crime to vary in different localities based on both the nature of the offenders returning to the community and also how the communities are responding to the return of these offenders.
Only a few months into the realignment plan, it is surely to early to have clear or conclusive evidence on the public safety consequences of Plata and its aftermath. Still I am very eager to hear any early reports, especially from anyone actively working on these issues, about what we might know on this front so far.
Yep. Me too.
60 MINUTES OCCUPIES THE BANKS AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
In the past months, CBS’s 60 Minutes has done a couple of excellent, aggressive and utterly enraging reports by Scott Pelley on the banking business, the mortgage crisis, and the like—asking repeatedly why the Justice Department hasn’t filed charges one any of these folks.
The most recent such report was this past Sunday.
The Occupy movement could do worse than to study these segments for talking points.
TEXAS MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING WIFE, FREED AFTER 25 YEARS – PROSECUTORS WITHHELD CRUCIAL EVIDENCE
The LA Times Molly Hennessy-Fiske and David G. Savage have the story. Here’s how it opens:
The case of a grocery store clerk wrongly convicted of murdering his wife has rocked the legal system across Texas, and not just because an innocent man served 25 years of a life sentence.
Supporters of Michael Morton, who was set free in October, say he might never been convicted if a prominent prosecutor had shared significant evidence with the defense at the time of the trial.
“Mr. Morton was the victim of serious prosecutorial misconduct that … completely ripped apart his family,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York, which represented Morton in his appeal.
On Monday, Morton and his lawyers plan to ask District Judge Sid Harle to take action against the lead prosecutor in the case, Ken Anderson, now a county judge.
The case highlights what critics say has become a recurring problem in Texas and across the nation: prosecutors concealing evidence that could undercut their cases.
Yeah. Sign me on as one of those “critics.”