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News Scan

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Limits on crime victims' measure: Last November, voters approved the restriction of legal rights for parole violators. Don Thompson, of the Associated Press, writes that "U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento ruled that a permanent federal injunction previously agreed to by Gov. Schwarzenegger's administration trumps voters' support for Proposition 9."  Proposition 9 writes victims' rights into the California Constitution. Karlton has concluded, "'a change in state law standing alone is not the type of change in factual circumstance that renders continued enforcement of a consent decree inequitable.'" Administration lawyers are expected to appeal. The order is here.

Identical twins' DNA sets them free: This story by Spiegel Online writes that German police say one of the two twin brothers Hassa and Abbas O. may have committed a five million dollar jewelry heist. The case appeared to be an easy one to close due to a glove that was left behind at the scene. Unfortunately, because their DNA is so similar, law enforcement has been unable to identify which twin the glove belonged to. "German law stipulates that each criminal must be individually proven guilty" so both have been let go.

Pennsylvania juvenile convictions reversed: Michael Rubinkam, of the Associated Press, writes that "Pennsylvania's highest court on Thursday overturned hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by a corrupt judge accused of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send kids to privately owned detention centers." The State Supreme court ruling was influenced also by Pennsylvania's law that "a juvenile may not waive his right to an attorney unless the decision is made 'knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily.'" Many of the juveniles who went before Judge Mark Ciavarella (corrupt) appeared without counsel and the Court decided many "did not knowingly and intelligently waive their right to counsel." Additional cases are still under review.
Our previous post on this scandal is here.

Tighter restrictions on death penalty in Maryland: John Wagner, of the Washington Post, writes that "the Maryland House of Delegates voted 87 to 52 today to approve some of the nation's tightest restrictions on death penalty cases." New stipulations include "limiting capital cases to those with biological or DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotape linking the defendant to a homicide." There is strong opposition to the restrictions. Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County) argued that the House "'cleverly and successfully killed the death penalty in Maryland.'" The question remains: With the new restrictions, will the prosecution ever be able to bring forth a death penalty case?

Cutting costs: Jennifer Steinhauer writes this story about state prisons who have relaxed their prison policies in order to reduce costs during the economic recession. Steinhauer notes the two ways in which law makers used to deal with lawbreakers: "lock more up for longer periods, and build more prisons to hold them." Unfortunately, with the current status of the economy "some states, like Colorado and Kansas, are closing prisons. Others, like New Jersey, have replaced jail time with community programs or other sanctions for people who violate parole." How can community programs replace jail time? California state corrections secretary,  Matthew Cate said, "we are out of room and we're out of money." So, what about punishment? It seems for some crimes, there soon may not be much of one.


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How can any conviction stand in front of those corrupt judges?

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