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News Scan

Differing Opinions About Pew Prison Study: Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media has this piece responding to the Pew Prison Study, opining that a lot of media coverage, as well as the study itself, have minimized the positive effects of prison expansion - namely a decrease in crime rates.

Long Island Serial Killer Used Victim's Cell Phone to Make Taunting Phone Calls to Victim's Family: Christina Boyle of the NY Daily News reports the serial killer wanted for several murders of Long Island prostitutes used victim Melissa Barthelemy's cell phone to call her younger sister at least seven times. During the final phone call, the man confessed to killing 29-year-old Barthelemy. Barthelemy's 16-year-old sister Amanda said the alleged killer used "taunting and angry words." The man allowed Amanda to ask a few questions during the calls, which has given investigators some clues into the mindset of the presumed serial killer they are desperately hunting. Since police first discovered four bodies in December, the death toll in Suffolk County is now up to ten.

Juvenile Murderer Wants 1985 Conviction Reconsidered: Casey Grove of the Anchorage Daily News reports Winona Fletcher is asking the Alaska courts to reconsider her 25-year-old murder convictions, claiming she never had a fair shot of being tried as a juvenile. Fletcher pleaded guilty at the age of 15 to three counts of murder for killing three elderly people in their home in 1985. She was charged as an adult, after a two-week hearing on her juvenile status and a judge concluded she could not be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system. Her attorney now claims modern research about juvenile brain development wasn't available at the time. The victims' friends and family were present at a court hearing yesterday, and say the ongoing litigation forces them to relive the day of the killings.

Georgia Governor Set to Sign Bill That Targets Illegal Immigration: Gustavo Valdes of CNN reports that the Georgia legislature last night passed an anti-illegal immigration bill that, in the words of its author Rep. Matt Ramsey (R), addresses issues forced on the state by the federal government's inaction. In 2006 the Georgia state legislature passed a law requiring public employers and government contractors to input the names of people they hire into federal database E-Verify to check their resident status. This new bill requires private employers with more than 11 workers to use the federal database. Provisions of the bill also include allowing law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects during some criminal investigations and prison sentences for people who used fake documents to get jobs. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal plans to sign the bill into law.

Sex Offenders Online: Related to a story in yesterday's news scan, Camille Mann of CBS News has this report about John Burgess, a convicted sex offender given a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of San Diego State University student Donna Jou, whom he met online in 2007. Burgess told authorities Jou died in his home after using drugs, where he panicked and dumped her body in the ocean. Burgess is being transferred to county custody for one year after serving two years in prison.

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