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News Scan

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Call for Action on "Melissa's Bill":  Joan Vennochi has this editorial in The Boston Globe, calling for Massachusetts lawmakers to vote on "Melissa's Bill," a decade-old bill mandating maximum sentences and parole ineligibility for repeat felons.  The bill was proposed in light of the 1999 murder of Melissa Gosule, who was abducted, raped, and murdered by a repeat offender.  The bill has languished for years in a judiciary committee, but has recently been revived after the recent shooting death of a police officer, allegedly by a released parolee with three life sentences.  Vennochi criticizes the state legislature's hands-off approach: "Letting the proposal die in committee is the coward's way out.  It deserves a vote and those lawmakers who don't support it should have the decency to look into the eyes of [victims'] relatives left behind and tell them why."

First Execution of 2011 Scheduled for Tonight:  Oklahoma is scheduled to carry out the first execution of the year, reports Naimah Jabali-Nash on the CBS Crimesider blog.  Billy Don Alverson, 39, was sentenced to death for the 1995 beating death of a convenience store supervisor in Tulsa.  Prosecutors say Alverson and three other men beat the victim with a baseball bat, delivering a total of 54 blows and leaving his body in the store's cooler.  The other three defendants were also sentenced to death, and one was executed in 2009.

Oregon Court Weighs in on Viewing Child Porn: 
The Oregon Supreme Court today ruled that accessing, and presumably viewing, kiddie porn on the internet does not amount to "possession."  The court reasoned: "Looking for something on the Internet is like walking into a museum to look at pictures -- the pictures are where the person expected them to be, and he can look at them, but that does not in any sense give him possession of them."  Aimee Green of The Oregonian has this story.

Comic Relief:  A stupid criminal story or two is always good to lighten the mood.  Terry Sanginiti of The News Journal (DE) reports 44-year-old John Finch broke into a Wilmington, Delaware home, drank five bottles of liquor over the course of a few days, and finally called 911 when he couldn't figure out a way out.  After rescuing him from the house, police promptly arrested him.  And Lisa A. Davis of Tampa Bay Online reports a Florida teen, after being arrested on burglary charges, took several bites of a patrol car's back seat.  The sheriff's office estimates the teen caused $300 in damage.

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