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News Scan

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Chicago Gang Leaders Unhappy with Police:  The AP has this story about Chicago's recent "gang summit," during which police met with the city's gang leaders in an attempt to crack down on gang violence.  At the summit, the police superintendent explained that if gang violence continued, police efforts would be directed straight at the gang's leaders, who "are in the position to stop the killing."  Some activists criticized Chicago's strategy by questioning whether the gang leaders should be held accountable for the actions of their subordinates, and the gang leaders themselves complained during a news conference held after the summit that the police tactics were unfair.

CA Court Reverses Juvenile's Sentence:  A California appellate court today reversed the 84-year sentence of a juvenile offender, finding the term to be the equivalent of LWOP and therefore unconstitutional under the circumstances.  Victor Manuel Mendez, who has an extensive criminal record dating back to age 10, was tried and convicted as an adult for a series of gang-related robberies and carjackings he committed when 16.  He was sentenced to 84 years in prison, which he claimed was a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights in light of Graham v. Florida (no LWOP for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses).  The court agreed, finding that his sentence did not afford him "some meaningful opportunity to obtain release" as required under Graham, and was also unconstitutional under the traditional "proportionality" test.  The case was sent back to the trial court for resentencing.  Read the San Francisco Chronicle's article here.

Ohio Governor Spares Death Row Inmate:  Ohio convicted murder Kevin Keith, who also appeared in yesterday's news scan, was spared the death penalty today after Governor Ted Strickland commuted his sentence to life in prison, reports the AP.  The decision overrides last month's unanimous decision by the parole board to deny Keith clemency.  Although Governor Strickland made clear he believes Keith is guilty of the four murders that landed him on death row, the governor cited "legitimate questions" about evidence used at trial as a basis for his decision.

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