Baca Says No More Political Donations, The CDCR’s New Guy…and 4 More States May Reform Pot Laws – UPDATEDFebruary 1st, 2013 by Celeste Fremon
The LA Times Robert Faturechi has the departmental memo that went out to this effect.
UPDATE: WLA has now obtained the Sheriff’s memo. To read it, click the link below.
As anyone reading WLA for any length of time knows, Matt Fleischer’s investigative stories for us have been hammering away at this issue for well over a year, outlining what has appeared to be a pay-to-play system run primarily by the undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, where loyalty and quid pro quo campaign donations and the like were rewarded over competence. (Not that there aren’t wonderfully competent people in some areas of command staff; there are. So please don’t start shouting about that, dear LASD boosters.)
In any case, here’s a clip from Faturechi’s story:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told his deputies Thursday that he would no longer accept campaign contributions from department employees, according to an internal memo obtained by The Times.
Baca also said other sheriff’s managers who run for an elected office would be barred from making employment decisions affecting employees who have donated to their campaigns.
Baca’s announcement comes amid concerns that campaign contributions to sheriff’s brass by department employees created potential conflicts of interest in promotions and other personnel decisions.
“It is the responsibility of every member [of the department] to avoid any situation which may pose a conflict of interest,” the sheriff wrote in his memo.
Baca and his second in command, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is also mayor of Gardena, have over the years accepted thousands of dollars in contributions from department employees.
For years, allegations of favoritism based on political contributions have dogged the Sheriff’s Department….
EDITOR’S NOTE: A big thank you to Robert Faturechi for his shout-out to WLA in his story. With Matt Fleischer’s reporting, WitnessLa indeed broke this story and continued to point the way for the Jails Commission and others to investigate the matter further. In any case, we appreciated the shout out.
TALKING TO CALIFORNIA’S NEW PRISON CHIEF, JEFFREY BEARD
The LA Times corrections reporter, Paige St. John, talks to the man who replaced Matt Cate as the head of the CDCR.
I’ve heard good things about this guy, but I have yet to meet him. In the interim, let’s take a look at what St. John found her in her conversations. Here’s a clip:
Jeffrey Beard’s expert testimony was cited 39 times in the federal court order that capped California’s prison population in 2009. He said the state’s prisons were severely overcrowded, unsafe and unable to deliver adequate care to inmates.
At the time, he was Pennsylvania’s prisons chief. Now, he’s Gov. Jerry Brown’s new corrections secretary, and his first order of business is to persuade the same judges to lift the cap, as well as to end the court’s longtime hold on prison mental health care.
“I agree with what I said back then,” Beard said Tuesday in one of his first interviews as the new head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “On the flip side,” he said, “things have changed.”
California has 35,000 fewer inmates than when Beard testified in U.S. District Court in 2008, though that has not been enough to satisfy the judges, who want the population reduced by thousands more. On Tuesday, they gave the state until the end of this year — an extra six months — to meet their cap.
Beard said inmate medical care is better now, and he has more understanding of California’s sprawling prison system. When he testified, he had only been to the historic prison in Folsom. His comments then about overcrowding, unsafe conditions and inadequate care came from the reports of other experts and from his work on a 2006 state task force examining recidivism.
“I’ve now been in about 20 of the institutions,” he said Tuesday.
Beard said his perspective started to change in 2011, when he retired from his Pennsylvania post and began to do consulting work for California.
4 MORE STATES MAY HELP THE MARIJUANA REFORM MOVEMENT PICK UP SPEED
Mike Riggs at Reason Magazine (a publication which is repeatedly good on criminal justice issues) predicts that four states may be next up for marijuana reform, namely New Hampshire, Kentucky, Illinois and Vermont.
Here’s a clip;
It’s been only two months since Washington and Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana, but the advocates who raised millions to pass Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 aren’t wasting time celebrating. In addition to helping craft the rules and regulations in the Centennial and Evergreen states, they’re also providing support to state legislators who will introduce marijuana bills—more than 20 altogether—in 2013.
“While not all of them will pass,” says Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the debates around them will be different than in years past. “What I’m hearing is that a dam broke,” says Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Before Colorado and Washington, the idea of legal marijuana existed in the realm of fantasy. But after Colorado and Washington, we can have a more serious conversation.”
With the start of the 2013 legislative session, that conversation has officially begun. Incremental reforms are going to happen in the next 12 months, even if the next state to fully legalize marijuana doesn’t do so until 2014 or (more likely) 2016. We asked the folks at MPP, which was instrumental in the passage of Amendment 64, and DPA, which led the charge in Washington, which state legislatures could make big changes to their marijuana laws in 2013. These are the four they told us about.
Read the rest.