The only man in Missouri serving a life sentence without parole for a marijuana-related offense has been granted parole

From KRCG, Aug 10th 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — The only man in Missouri serving a life sentence without parole for a marijuana-related offense has been granted parole.

Jeff Mizanskey’s lawyer Tony Nenninger said a state parole board heard the case last week, and has decided to let him be released after more than 20 years in prison.

Governor Jay Nixon commuted Mizanskey’s sentence in May, allowing for a parole hearing that was held on August 6th.

Nenninger says the state is expected to release Mizanskey within 25 days.

"If the Risk Is Low, Let Them Go": Efforts to Resolve the Growing Numbers of Aging Behind Bars

Reblogged from: Truth-Out
Article by Victoria Law
Jan. 10, 2014

Imagine your grandparents and great-grandparents in shackles or dying behind bars. By 2030, the prison population age 55 and over is predicted to be 4,400 percent more than what it was in 1981. Some state and federal prison systems look at alternatives.

The recent release of 74-year-old Lynne Stewart has made headlines. Stewart, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, was granted compassionate release December 31, 2013, after a protracted struggle by Stewart and supporters across the country. Stewart, whose cancer has spread to her lungs, lymph system and bones, will spend her remaining months with her family in Brooklyn.

But what about the aging and infirm people incarcerated nationwide who lack Stewart’s fame and support? The United States has some 125,000 prisoners age 55 and older, quadruple the number in 1995. Various human rights groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the Vera Institute of Justice have issued warnings about the increased numbers of aging, elderly and incapacitated behind bars. In response to these increases, several states, such as Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, are in the process of building hospice and geriatric units within their prison systems.

But what other solutions are there?

“If the Risk is Low, Let Them Go”

In New York, advocates – including formerly incarcerated people – have launched the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) campaign. More than 9,200 people (nearly 17 percent) imprisoned in New York are 50 or older. While the state’s prison population dropped this past decade – from 71,466 in 2000 to 56,315 in 2011 – the number of people 50 and older has increased by 64 percent.

Lead organizer Mujahid Farid knows the obstacles facing people seeking parole. Farid was arrested in 1978 and sentenced to 15 years to life for an attempted murder. By the time he was eligible for parole in 1993, he had earned four college degrees as well as certificates for numerous other programs. None of these accomplishments mattered. He was denied parole based on his 1978 conviction. Farid appeared before the parole board ten times over the next 18 years before he was granted parole in 2011.

“I realized it wasn’t personal,” he told Truthout. “They’re not looking at your personal development. They’re simply looking at your conviction.” After his release, Farid met with advocates, including other formerly incarcerated people, to discuss how to overcome the hurdle within the parole system. Out of these discussions came RAPP.  Under the slogan “If the risk is low, let them go,” RAPP mobilizes to change the routine in which parole and compassionate release are denied to those who have spent decades in New York’s state prisons.

Read the rest here.

Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report – Vol. 2, No 4 Spring Issue 2012 (published in September of 2012)

Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report
Vol. 2, No 4 “Veritas in Caritatis” Spring Issue 2012

THEME: “Audi alterum partem” – Listen to the other side!

“Voice of the Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report”

E-mail: nvjprudence@gmail.com
Website: nvjprudence.wordpress.com

Statement of Purpose:
The NJPR Newsletter reports on current prison conditions, good and bad; more importantly it looks at and evaluates the legal processes and the substantive laws which are designed to keep men in prison: Pre-trial issues, probation and parole policy, sentencing structures, post-conviction law, and most important, the philosophy underlying policy in practice.

The purpose of the NJPR Website is to provide a repository of affidavits, declarations and grievances in Web-Dossiers organized by categories of intuitional behavior. Fundamentally, this is a whistleblowing organization trying to associate with other “transparency” projects at an intrastate, national and global level. We seek to identify patterns which can be utilized by the U.S. Department of Justice.
We invite any resident, and especially judicial officers of the Courts and government Administration to write letters to the NJPR.

Index to this Issue:

Section One: Conditions

1. The Retrogression of NNCC Court Access

2. Report on Parole and Probation Practices

Section TWO: Law, Equity and Policy

On Motions to Correct Illegal Sentences

Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion

Poem: Inmate Gratitude by Terrence Sweeney

Subscriptions and Services

Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Newsletter can be delivered via e-mail or snail-mail. We ask you send a copy into NDOC system and your local legislature and press!

E-mail: $3 for 6 months
$5 for 12 months
Snail-mail: $8 for 6 months
$15 for 12 months

Dept. of Justice Issue Dossiers:
Scanning, storage and Electronic Delivery of Dept. of Justice, press, politicians and state administrators.
.75¢ 1st 10 pages ($7.50)
.60¢ per page after that
Customized letter: $1 per 250 word

Section One: Conditions

1) Law Library Closure at NNCC

About two years ago, the Administration threw out two thousand hardbound volumes of Supreme Court and Pacific Reporters, claiming the computer access would adequately replace the loss. The prison “saved” no money in the wanton destruction, but probably are losing money through the high cost of digital services through Mathew Bender & Company, Inc. On top of this are the exorbitant printing costs for the hundreds of thousands of pages to replace the pre-printed volumes that would have lasted a hundred years. What kind of moronic fiscal responsibility is that?

Now, in early August, the law library has shut its doors entirely. The prison clerks are not trained in the law and no arrangement for access to trained professionals has been made. Already, copies of personal criminal proceedings are being carried by PRISONER law clerk assistants, by hand from the units to the copy machine in the library and back. This has already caused problems because inmate petitioners cannot be present to supervise the copying of complex pleadings with many exhibits.

2) Report on Parole and Probation

Mike X. is over 60 years old. Some years back, during the course of the break up of his marriage and loss of a family business, he was arrested for sale of a small amount of drugs to an under-cover agent in Reno, Nevada. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to drug court in lieu of prison. The expense of the alternative is borne by the convict to the extent that Mike, who was also without a car, was unable to meet his obligation. He absconded to California, where he had friends and a job waiting for him. He did well for a year or so then was injured and ended up in a convalescent hospital. He was taken custody by local law enforcement, taken to local jail and picked up by Nevada law enforcement and transferred back.

At his hearing, the District Attorney offered drug Court again, but John was in worse condition than before, so he refused and chose to serve his 2-5 year sentence in prison. The judge so ordered, and John, still injured, spent his first three or four months in the prison infirmary. He went to the main units for about three months, then had his first parole hearing.

His “parole plan” for the Parole Board Hearing was to go back to the convalescent home in California and/or to his friends there. He was approved for parole on this plan.

After the hearing, he was informed by his unit officer that they would not release him to California and the reason given was “they don’t do that anymore”. Eventually he was released to Safe Harbor Half-way House at 469 9th Street in Reno, Nevada.

The State, says John, pays the first three weeks of the program fees, and then the rest is up to the parolee. John had been given 29$ upon his release, and the program costs 650$ month. The program, according to John, offered three meals and a bed, and nothing else. Had he been able to stay on his sentence would have expired in January 2011. He was unable to get his disability payments reactivated within the three weeks he had his rent paid by the State of Nevada; the program began to ask for their money, and John was also bound to pay a 30$ per month Parole fee, and a 50$ drug evaluation fee for a psychoanalyst report. The program supplied the card of a professional analyst he was to have hired. John, having no income became overwhelmed and decided to turn himself into the parole officer assigned to his case and lie to the officer so he would get “violated” and taken back to prison.

John’s assigned officer was not in when he arrived. The duty officer that day was assigned to talk to him. John informed her he had taken vicodin’s. She questioned him for about 5 minutes then had another officer came and cross-examined him. They did not drug test him. He was in County Jail in about 2 hours. He was there 2 months. His assigned Probation Officer, Ms Simon Tachi, came to see him to have him sign paperwork. John did not have his required “revocation hearing” until he was in prison for three weeks not while he was at County Jail.

At his Revocation Hearing, John fessed up to what he had done and they reinstated his parole and gave him until April 1 2010 to go back to them and supply them with a new “parole plan”. John is considering that it would be safer for him to spend the remainder of his sentence in prison, as he cannot thrive in the State of Nevada as he has no family, no friends, and no income. If he “expires” his sentence, he would be free from the Nevada system and could travel back to California. John is a professional grade graphic artist.

Section Two: Law and Equity

1) On Motions to Correct Illegal Sentences

Notes on the Use of Edwards for Governmental Evasion of Motions to Correct Illegal Sentences in the State of Nevada.

The Executive branch at local and central levels has convinced the judicial branch that the convicted and incarcerated citizens of the region cannot succeed in finding relief under the statutory “Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence” (NRS 176.555) UNLESS “it is illegal for being at variance with the controlling sentencing statute” Edwards v. State.

This controlling principle is derived from non-9th Federal District case law. The prisoners at NNCC recently received copies of three non-9th District cases which are cited by the Edwards court to support its pro-government stance of preferential treatment of prosecuting attorney. We will discuss these three cases and show how the local executive lawyers of the government have hoodwinked the judicial branch, and constructed a law that magnifies its own power and vitiates the individual citizen.

This is done by omitting from judicial consciousness the entire law of the underlying cases, and presenting to them only those portions prejudicially favorable to the government. This reductive prevarication creates a sham appearance of the American claim to the rule of law and is a major contribution to prison over-population, because it is a “legal” weapon in the war-on-crime denial of the lower courts, who trusted the statist executive branch lawyers twisted cutting up at the case law to insure its own “victory” at the high cost of injustice to Z. and thousands of others.

Prince v. U.S., 432 A2d 720

Z. was denied his motion to correct his outrageously unfair sentence because it fell within the range of maximum penalty allowed for by legislated statute, as stated in Edwards above. The implied message is that there are NO OTHER CIRCUSTANCES which give the judge cause to change the sentence. This is a fabrication.

The government lawyers derived this legal standard of Nevada from Prince v. U.S., 432 A2d 720, which (the lawyers tell the court) says

“A sentence is a nullity if it is illegal for being at variance with the controlling sentencing statute”. 

What the government forgets to tell its local judges is that Prince is a case of the government filing a motion to correct a sentence. The judge in this case departed downward, giving a lighter sentence than called for by the statutes. The government had to file the motion two times before the judge would get it right and impose the ten year sentence. This Prince court relies on Bozza v. U.S. 67sct 645 which points out that “an excessive [broken off]

The case of Z.

We are going to scaffold this discussion upon a live case that probably represents the situation of thousands of illegally sentenced men in the industrial justice system.

Z. was driving in Las Vegas and was typically profiled as a black suspect; he refused to stop for about 30 seconds, but never sped up past miles per hour. He was stopped and searched, which produced two small packets of personal use drugs, one cocaine, one heroin. Z claimed there was no “probable cause” and a public pretender file a motion, and the court colluded with the government to come up with a fabricated police-car computer-generated document that provided a false-positive “cause”.

The defendant was offered a penalty of about four years prison with good time considered. He exercised his constitution right to a trial and paid the jury trial penalty, and eventually got a sentence enhancement on the bifurcation of two charges out of the one act of drug possession and received sixty years. Then, being placed in one of the southern Nevada lock-down prisons where true access to the courts is denied systematically he became time-barred on his Habeus Corpus.
He has been attempting a Motion to Correct since 2011, was denied and now is attempting a Motion to Reconsider the sentence should be “corrected” as well.

Now since the Government’s own stated aims are to seek justice in the abstract and not mere victory over its own citizens. It failed in its obligations to make concessions that excessive sentences can be requested by those convicted of them and the conditions under which this can occur. This failure of the government implies a hidden agenda of winning at all costs, as is if the adversarial system justifies the idea of equity and fairness inimical. So the question of how a prisoner convict can use this Motion to Correct Sentence begs to be answered.

Allen v. U.S. 495 A2d 1145 (D.C. App. 1985)

Another statist interpretation found in the Edwards case which is used to foreclose the Motion from effective use by citizens against the government is the argument that the Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence can be only brought to fruition if the conviction is presumed to be valid, and that the court cannot entertain arguments of alleged errors in the proceedings prior to the imposition of the sentence. Only when the judge departs from the statutory perimeters can this motion be used—or so says the state. This Allen case builds on Heflin v. U.S. 79sct 451Robinson v. U.S. 454 A 2d 810.

The third non-9th Circuit case which is the foundation of the repressive Edwards case is the Robinson case, cited above. Now, Robinson relies on U.S. v. Ramsey 655 F2d 398 (1981), which reveals two distinct kinds of illegal sentences: one in which is illegal on its face due to various reasons, and one which is the sentence is imposed in an illegal manner.

Nevada bureaucrats have weaved a public lie that motions to correct applies only when there is a defect in the imposition of statutorily correct sentence (either too much or too little punishment). But we’ve shown above a sentence is also illegal when there is no evidence to support a conviction and the judge fails to catch it. One example is the situation when the government “pyramids” sentences by sneaking in a conspiracy charge on top of the charge of consummating the conspired act—they should merge to one act. Or as in the case of Z, one act of possession of illegal drugs is punished as two acts even though there is no additional evidence to separate the act into two—like time, place or action.

The second way a sentence becomes illegal as described in the underlying Robinson case is the manner in which it is impose of which is a correction of a sentence made illegal by a government “pyramiding of penalties” by creating two counts of guilt for one act.

Now in Allen, the government does not pyramid, and they have proven two acts. But the case clearly defines a situation when a sentence can be illegal in other ways than just being statutorily incorrect. The Nevada Edwards case omits this discussion from the record and carefully redacts the Allen language to find words to fit its argument for statist domination over all the players in the “justice community”.

It is clear that judges themselves, and certainly not state-hired “defender” read the underlying case law to find the whole truth. It is a little know fact how the indigent and poor are routinely denied access to the non- Nevada and non-9th Circuit cases at the facility law libraries, and the Supreme Court will not supply such law except to the WEALTHY inmate who can pay. The rule which the underlying Allen case makes is that a sentence is illegal on its face when it creates two counts and two punishments from a single act, as in the case of Z…

This applies to Z because he was punished for exercising his rights to trial by not only sentencing him twice for one act, but he got a quantum leap of punishment by getting the “habitual criminal enhancement”, and received a potential death sentence of 60+ years! Remember, the government offered him years!

Now, the state of Nevada statute has a ritual procedure that must be met not just substantially but strictly. If the government indicts by Grand Jury and they decide to enhance, they must give a “notice” of such to the Grand Jury and defendant. If the government charges by information then seeks enhancement, the government must Amend the complaint. Not give “notice” to Grand jury, but Amend complaint.

The underlying Robinson case, the court establishes absolute strictness to this ritual. The dissent of Mack says it best:

“The commission of this procedural error can well result in the loss substantive right… since the legal requirement for imposition of a sentence was not met here… the court did not have authority to impose the [enhanced] sentence”.

Z. got a “notice”, not an amended complaint so his sentence is illegal for two reasons: double jeopardy and improper imposition of sentence both of which can be addressed under a Motion to Correct on Illegal Sentence.

However, one cannot see this in the case law of Edwards in Nevada. One has to read all the underlying case law to discover the oppressive violence by virtue of the Executive branch lawyers covering up the whole record, concealing the truth, duping the judges and publics, and reductively obscuring the parts of the rules of law which will diminish government power, and enhance the possibility of victory for citizens in the Anglo-American adversarial system.

Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion

1) Poem:

Inmate Gratitude

Each day you work an angel in my life
Perhaps one day you’ll save me from a knife.
Amid the ridicule you keep me safe from harm
When gangs attempt to try and break my arm
Ready you stand when needed by my side
Even solace you give the night I cried
Comfort when friends and family fell ill and died
Your presence gives no place for evil to hide.
Your days are never simple and always rough
Surrounded by things who try to huff and puff
Challenged by cons to see of your up to snuff
One hardly ever thinks to thank enough.
Often fools, they throw you one more curve
They try so hard to work your final nerve
They blame you first for sentences they serve
Let this be just a thanks that you deserve.

PAX

Parole Board Ordered to Apply Retroactively Rehabilitation Factor

Received by email from NYC Jericho:

John Caher, New York Law Journal, December 27, 2011

A judge has ordered the state parole board to retroactively apply a new provision requiring it to consider the rehabilitation of an inmate and not base a denial of release on an offense that may have occurred decades in the past.

The decision, if upheld, could entitle scores of inmates to new parole interviews.

Orange County Supreme Court Justice Lawrence H. Ecker, in what he says is a case of first impression, reviewed a recent revision of Executive Law §259(c), and held that a man who came up for parole before a change in the law is nonetheless entitled to benefit from that law.

The revision requires the parole board to look beyond the instant offense and consider whether the applicant for parole has been rehabilitated.

In Matter of Thwaites v. New York State Board of Parole, 2011 NY Slip Op 21453, Justice Ecker said the board, in denying the inmate’s release, relied on “past-focused rhetoric, not future-focused risk assessment analysis.” He directed the parole board to afford Douglas Thwaites a new interview.

“The court finds the Board’s decision denying parole in this case to be arbitrary and capricious, irrational, and improper based upon the Parole Board’s failure to articulate any rational, nonconclusory basis, other than its reliance on the seriousness of the crime,” Justice Ecker wrote.

Douglas Thwaites was convicted of murder and assault in Brooklyn in 1986 and sentenced to a 25-year-to-life term. Mr. Thwaites, now 67, stabbed his estranged wife nine times, killing her, and also stabbed but did not kill a family friend who attempted to intervene, records show.

The inmate, who was interviewed by the parole board on March 16, 2010, was denied release in a boilerplate decision concluding that “discretionary release is inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community. To hold otherwise would so deprecate the seriousness of your crime as to undermine respect for law.”

The exact language is routinely cited in parole decisions.

Several months after Mr. Thwaites denial, the revision of Executive Law §259(c) took effect. It requires the board to “incorporate risk and needs principles to measure the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the board [and] the likelihood of success of such persons upon release.”

Justice Ecker said there is no question the board did not apply in Mr. Thwaites’ case standards that had yet to take effect. Regardless, he said the “remedial” objective of the legislation requires reconsideration of the inmate’s parole bid.

Mr. Thwaites, a prisoner at the Mid Orange Correctional Facility in Warwick, argued pro se.

The state was defended by Assistant Attorney General Jeane L. Strickland Smith. Jennifer Givner, spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the decision is under review.

In another parole decision last week, the Appellate Division, Third Department, refused to reinstate an action on behalf of violent felons who contend the parole board has systematically violated state law in routinely denying release to Class A-1 convicts. The same issue was unsuccessfully litigated in federal court.

Graziano v. Evans, 512150, is the state court version of Graziano v. Pataki, 7:06-cv-00480, a Southern District case dismissed a year ago by Judge Cathy Seibel.

Judge Seibel rejected the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims and the state courts have rejected their statutory claims.

The Third Department affirmed Albany Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger D. McDonough in dismissing the state court action.

Justice McDonough had found that the lead plaintiff, Peter Graziano, had and availed himself of an opportunity to challenge his denial of parole, and res judicata bars the subsequent action. The Third Department, in an opinion by Acting Presiding Justice Thomas E. Mercure, agreed.

Robert N. Isseks of Middletown represents the plaintiffs.

Assistant Attorney General Steven C. Wu defended the state.

Louisiana Legislature votes to parole some elderly prisoners

From: SF Bay View, June 28th 2011
By Natasha R.

Baton Rouge, La. – The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the passage of a bill in the Louisiana legislature making it easier for elderly prisoners to get a parole hearing as an important step towards reducing the state’s unnecessarily high prison population.

The bill, H.B. 138, passed June 20 by the Louisiana Senate after it was passed two weeks ago by the state’s House of Representatives, will enable some prisoners to go before a parole board upon turning 60 years of age. The board can then decide to grant parole to those individuals who would pose no danger to the community upon release.

“Louisiana should not be using taxpayer dollars to lock up elderly individuals when they pose no danger to our communities,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “The state’s legislature deserves credit for tackling the state’s problem of over-incarceration by passing bills like this one.”

Louisiana has the largest incarcerated population of any state in the nation and half of those behind bars in Louisiana are there for non-violent offenses. The state has 1,224 people over the age of 60 locked up, 3 percent of the state’s total prison population.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections estimates that while it costs $19,888 to house a state prisoner for a year, it costs $80,000 to house an ailing inmate.

Research also shows that the likelihood of recidivism drops significantly with age. According to state corrections statistics, only 0.3 percent of those released at age 55 or older recidivate and end up reincarcerated.

With the passage of today’s bill, Louisiana tackled what is a national problem of needlessly incarcerating elderly prisoners. Across the nation, more than 35,000 people over the age of 60 are in prison, or 2.3 percent of the nation’s total prison population.

“Today, more Americans than ever before are unnecessarily and unfairly deprived of their liberty with no benefit to public safety and at great expense to taxpayers,” said Inimai Chettiar, policy counsel with the national ACLU. “Louisiana is to be commended for looking for ways to reduce its bloated prison population, and other states around the country should follow Louisiana’s lead.”

More information about the ACLU of Louisiana is available at www.laaclu.org. More information about the ACLU’s national initiative to combat mass incarceration is available at www.aclu.org/combating-mass-incarceration

New data shows California lifers more likely to die in prison than to get parole

New data shows California lifers more likely to die in prison than to get parole
KALWNews.org
By Martina Castro
June 16, 2011

Right now, there are 17,000 inmates in California prisons serving life with the possibility of parole. For years, no one has really known how many of these prisoners are dying before they are paroled. And, it’s taken a Public Records Act request by a reporter to find out.

KALW’s Nancy Mullane has been following the parole process for lifers in California prisons for the past four years. She spoke with KALWs Holly Kernan to share the data just released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

* * *

HOLLY KERNAN: So Nancy tell us what you’ve found out, what’s this new data?

NANCY MULLANE: Well, Holly, what we found out through the release of these Public Records Act requests is that the individuals in California who have been sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for murder – not death, not life without the possibility of parole, but the 17,000 in California who have been sentenced to prison with the possibility of parole, meaning if they meet the conditions of parole, they will be released – what we found is that, number one, they serve…since 1988, when the governor of California was given the responsibility to review parole board decisions…

KERNAN:…Which significantly politicized those decisions, and then the governor was much less likely to grant parole…

MULLANE: That’s right. Because what happens every year is that the parole board holds 4 to 5,000 parole board hearings for the 17,000 murder 1 or murder 2 prisoners. And of those 17,000 prisoners and of the 4 to 5,000 parole board hearings, they only find about 5% suitable. And over the last 23 years since the governor was given this authority, the four different governors have reversed, just unilaterally reversed, 75% to 99% of all the parole board suitability findings sent to the governor.

So what that meant is that we’ve not only increased the population of this one cohort of prisoners in California from about 5,000 to about 17,000, but what it also means is those in prison are going to serve longer sentences. And now what we find out through this just-released data that we’ve gotten, and for the first time because the CDCR hadn’t even compiled this data before, what we found out is from 2000 to 2010, the number of individuals who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole for first or second degree murder, only 674 were released from prison. But what we’ve just found out is during those same years, 775 died in prison hoping for parole.

KERNAN: So, you’re more likely to die in prison than get released on parole?

MULLANE: That’s correct. According to the CDCR’s newly released statistic.

KERNAN: And the other thing that your new data found is that prisoners serving life with the possibility of parole are also now serving longer sentences?

MULLANE: That’s right. So let’s look at 2009, for instance. Well, actually let’s start back before the governor got the authority to review parole board decisions. Back in 1988, a prisoner serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for second degree murder served an average of five years. A prisoner serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole with first degree murder served about 14 years. But in 2009 – this is now almost 20 years after the governor had this authority – someone serving first degree murder is now serving 27 years, or 14 years more than in 1988. And for second degree murder? Twenty-four years, or 20 years more. So we’re finding that people are not only serving much longer sentences, but they also have a greater chance of dying while they’re waiting for parole.

KERNAN: …And California is under a court order to reduce it’s prison population. So how does your new data fit into the equation?

MULLANE: Well, one of the things that Justice Kennedy – in his Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population – one of the things he recommended was that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation look at who is in its prison, when they’re released, who has the lowest recidivism rate and find out who it’s safest to release. And so what we’ve discovered is that one of the new data released by the CDCR is that of the individuals who have been released for the last 20 years from 1990 to 2011, zero of the individuals released who had committed murder and had done time for murder committed murder. Zero. No one who had ever got out in the last 20 years – and that’s almost 1,000 – ever committed murder…

KERNAN…Of those who were convicted of murder with the possibility of parole?

MULLANE: That’s right. So none of them had ever committed murder. But, if you look at this other population in the state of California – and that’s 80% of the individuals who are incarcerated in our prisons today – they’re serving something called “determinant sentence,” meaning they don’t ever go before the parole board. They do a time that’s established by the court that sentenced them. And when that time is up, they walk out of prison. Whether they’ve done anything to rehabilitate themselves or not. No parole hearing, no expectations, just a bus ride back to the corner of 16th and Mission if that’s where they want to go.

So what we’ve found now is that of those – for instance in 2009, 130,000 were released on parole – of the 130,000 that were released on parole, in one year 85,000 were returned to prison. Of the 85,000 that returned to prison, 13% of those were sent back to prison for committing a new felony, and of those, 149 were for murder. So what this tells us is that the Supreme Court is right. We need to look also at who we’re releasing in the state of California from our prisons, and we need to be releasing the individuals who are least likely to commit murder or any other felony.
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KERNAN: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy Mullane just received the Edward R. Murrow award for Best Documentary for her reporting on lifers in California. Her documentary is Act One in This American Life’s Long Shot episode.
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This article originally appeared on KALWNews.org

Posted By: KALW News, June 16 2011

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/kalw/detail?entry_id=91211#ixzz1PgqsNkuB

Sent to us via The Real Cost of Prisons, thank you.

Bill could reduce prison population

By Geoff Dornan, Nevada Appeal, March 3rd 2011

Assembly Judiciary members were told Wednesday a bill allowing more prison inmates to qualify for good time credits against their minimum sentences could reduce the prison population by 300.

Assembly Bill 136 was developed by the Commission on the Administration of Justice as an extension of the changes to good time credits during the 2007 Legislature that made about 2,000 prisoners serving time for lesser and nonviolent felonies eligible for parole.

All inmates except those serving life without the possibility of parole are eligible to collect good time credits to lower their maximum sentences. Those serving time for lesser felonies also can apply good time credits against their minimum sentences, which gets them before the parole board sooner.

But those serving for the more serious Category “A” and “B” felonies can’t apply credits to lower their mandatory minimum sentences. AB136 would change that for Category “B” felons and change it retroactively.

But those convicted of violent or sexual offenses would not be eligible for early release.

Connie Bisbee, chairwoman of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, said the bill’s passage would make 518 inmates eligible for a parole hearing as soon as it took effect.

She emphasized, however, that doesn’t mean they would all get a parole. She projected that about 300 would get out saying prime examples would be those convicted of a nonviolent crime that was really what she termed “a shoplifting burglary.”

She said the bill would create a bubble of eligible inmates that would increase the parole board workload temporarily. It would cost an estimated $13,853 to handle that bubble, she said.

“But you’re talking about 518 and about 300 of them being paroled, you’re talking savings,” she said.

It costs about $20,000 a year to keep an inmate in the Nevada prison system.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, questioned who would get out on parole: “I don’t want to be responsible for turning 300 people back onto the streets who should be incarcerated.”

Bisbee told him the board has a very good record with the people it has paroled and is very careful not to “put somebody out who is a high risk.”

Committee Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said the bill doesn’t release anyone but “just allows them to be eligible.”

Rebecca Gasca of the ACLU said that, over the years, Nevada has seen a “ratcheting up of sentencing, especially things that could amount to shoplifting.” She said the bill excludes sex offenders, those who used force or violence and other such crimes from early release.

Like Bisbee she cited the potential savings by reducing that inmate population.

“The cost savings could be substantial,” she said.

Advisory Council for Prosecuting Attorneys representative Kristen Erickson, and Senior Deputy Attorney General Brett Kandt both testified they were neutral on the bill. But Erickson said the sample cases presented to support the bill averaged five felonies and “not one fit into what is called the shoplifting burglary.” She said they ranged up to habitual criminals and that the bill would allow some one who was in possession of a firearm during that crime to be released.

Kandt questioned whether the bill takes victims of those crimes adequately into consideration.

Horne pointed out there was a victim’s rights advocate on the commission that developed the bill. He said victims are entitled to truth in sentencing and that the proposed legislation weakens that.

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