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News Scan

Detainee Interrogations: Key to Killing Osama bin Laden:  Cully Stimson has this post at The Heritage Foundation's blog about the critical role detainee interrogation played in locating Osama bin Laden.

Federal Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Associated Press reports the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence of Michael Selsor for the shooting death of a convenience store clerk during a 1975 robbery in Tulsa. Selsor was convicted twice for the killing, in 1976 and 1998. After being sentenced to death in 1976, Selsor's sentence was modified to life in prison with the possibility of parole after Oklahoma's death penalty statue was declared unconstitutional. Then in 1996, the appellate court threw out Selsor's murder conviction as well as two other related convictions after ruling that the convictions were invalid because two public defenders were required to represent Selsor and his co-defendant at a joint trial. Selsor was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death after a retrial in 1998.

Iowa Deadlocked on Bill That Addresses Parole for Juveniles: William Petroski of the Des Moines Register reports that the Iowa Senate and House can't agree on how to address a Supreme Court decision from last year holding that juveniles sentenced to life in prison for crimes other than murder must be given a "meaningful opportunity to obtain release." Iowa lawmakers can't agree on how long affected inmates should stay in prison before before they are eligible for review by the Iowa Board of Parole. If no action is taken, affected cases will be reviewed annually. Cheryl Dittmer, whose daughter was killed by gang members in 1993, sat in the Senate balcony on Monday. Six teenagers were convicted in connection with the death of her daughter, two of which were given life sentences for first-degree kidnapping and could be freed someday as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. Dittmer said that if the two inmates are granted annual parole reviews, she could be revictimized once a year. In a written statement to lawmakers, Dittmer said "I implore you as a mother to please act." Dittmer also wants lawmakers to pass legislation which would make juveniles convicted of Class A and some Class B felonies ineligible for parole.

California Won't Resume Executions This Year: Carol J. Williams of the Los Angeles Times reports that any attempts to resume executions by California corrections officials have been put off at least until next year, according to court documents. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation requested to delay the review of newly revised lethal-injection protocols until at least January. This request follows the decision of San Quentin warden Michael Martel to replace and assemble a new execution team and Governor Jerry Brown's decision last week to abandon plans for building a new death row facility at San Quentin State Prison. These steps have many speculating about the future of new executions being sought. There are currently 713 condemned inmates on California's death row.

Murderer Attacks DA After Guilty Sentence: Nolan Clay of NewsOK reports that Emanuel D. Mitchell attacked Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater shortly after the prosecutor's penalty phase closing argument. Prater was punched in the face and the two men fell through the swinging gate into the spectator's section. Jurors found Mitchell guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a 16-year-old accomplice during the robbery of an Oklahoma City pharmacy. Though jurors witnessed the assault filmed by security cameras, deliberations were allowed to continue.

ACLU Files Suit Against Utah's Immigration Law:
Billy Hesterman of the Daily Herald (UT) reports that the ACLU of Utah has filed a class action lawsuit against Utah's recently passed House Bill 497, which allows law enforcement officials to verify immigration status for people detained for class B or C misdemeanors and requires officials to verify immigration status for people arrested for a class A misdemeanor or a felony. Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill along with multiple other immigration bills, set to go into effect May 10.

Feinstein Pushes for Ban on Prison Cell Phones: Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times reports U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein is lobbying for the revival of a bill that would make it illegal to smuggle cell phones into California prisons. Currently it is a violation for prisoners to possess cell phones, but not a crime. The bill at the state level would resemble the bill Feinstein sponsored that made possession of a cell phone by an inmate in a federal prison punishable by up to an additional year and a $5,000 fine. The bill was put on hold by legislators who feared it would cost too much to enforce. Feinstein is now calling for the resurrection of the bill, saying that prison gangs are able to operate while incarcerated, directing drug deals and killings, through the use of cell phones. Nearly 11,000 smuggled cell phones were discovered in California prisons last year.  

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