California Prisons: The Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit has announced her selections for the three-judge panel which will decide if the release of up to 37,000 felons from California prisons is necessary to alleviate overcrowding as reported in this story by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bob Egelko. The two District Judges who had requested that the panel be formed, Thelton Henderson of San Francisco, and Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento, will be joined by Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, to consider the release order. An initial appeal to block the formation of the panel by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, rejected earlier this week by the two district judges will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit according to Jurist reporter Michael Sung's story here. The odds that the Governor will prevail are poor.
Study Claims Race Influences Executions: Eve Conant with Newsweek reported yesterday on a study in the August issue of American Sociological Review regarding the disparity in race when it comes to executions. Conant reports that the released study “claims to be the first of its kind to study whether the race of murder victims affects the probability that a convicted killer gets the ultimate punishment.” In part of Conant’s interview with David Jacobs, the co-author and professor of sociology and political science at Ohio State University, Jacobs states, “The findings, in short, show that we clearly value white lives more than those of blacks or Hispanics.”
Inmate breaks Record: Illinois’ longest serving inmate was unanimously denied parole earlier today by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. William Heirens plead guilty to killing two women in 1946 and strangling to death a 6-year-old girl, who afterwards was dismembered. Heirens, who was charged with 3 back-to-back life term sentences, has spent more that 60 years in prison, setting a new record for longest serving inmate in history. Although Heirens attorney has stressed he should be released because of failing health, the victims’ families say they live in fear of him being released one day. The story reported by Michael Higgins with the Chicago Tribune, indicates that Gov. Ryan denied Heirens clemency back in 2002.