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Georgia Governor Offers Labor Solution After Crackdown on Illegal Immigration:   The AP reports Georgia Governor Nathan Deal yesterday offered a solution to the growing need of agricultural laborers after the state's crackdown on illegal immigration has reportedly scared off workers - hire people on probation to do the work.  The state's correction department has already launched a pilot program matching unemployed probationers, who are generally required to seek work, with employers, sending more than 15,000 people to a south Georgia vegetable farm on Monday.  An unscientific study showed around 11,000 job openings in Georgia's agricultural economy.

Texas Execution Scheduled for Tonight:
  Texas death row inmate and triple murderer John Balentine is scheduled for execution tonight, reports Michael Graczyk of the AP.  Balentine was sentenced to death for shooting to death three teenagers in Amarillo more than 13 years ago.  The Supreme Court declined to hear Balentine's appeal on Monday, but a second appeal currently pending before the court argues his appellate lawyers failed to raise claims that his trial counsel was ineffective in not presenting mitigating evidence about Balentine's background and character.  Randy Sherrod, one of Balentine's trial attorneys, says the defense team tried to find evidence to persuade the jury to impose a life sentence instead of death, but that they "couldn't find anyone to say anything good about him."  Update:  The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution pending the disposition of Balentine's petition for writ of certiorari filed yesterday (docket no. 10-11036).  Michael Graczyk of the AP has this story.

Federal Jury in Connecticut Decides Death Sentence for First Time Since 1988:  David Owens of The Hartford Courant reports a federal jury in New Haven, Connecticut today decided Azibo Aquart should be sentenced to death for the gruesome murders of three people in 2005.  Aquart, the founder and leader of a drug trafficking crew that primarily sold crack cocaine, was convicted last month of beating to death three people with a baseball bat over a drug dealing dispute.  The U.S. Attorneys office said this is the first time a federal jury in Connecticut has found a defendant should be sentenced to death since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988.

California Realignment Plan Threatens Inmate Firefighting Program:  California Governor Jerry Brown's plan to shift responsibility for tens of thousands of inmates from state prison to county supervision may threaten the state's prisoner firefighting program, reports the AP.  Through the program low-level offenders are able to complete training in fire camps, earn a daily wage and good time credits, and obtain skills and licenses that may help them gain employment after their release.  4,300 state prison inmates work on the front lines of California's wildfires each year, making up nearly half of the state's wildland firefighters.  Under Governor Brown's realignment plan, many of the low-level offenders eligible for the fire program will be under county supervision and it is uncertain whether county sheriffs will elect to send inmates through the program. 

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If history is any guide, these unemployed probationers will come up with a host of reasons why they are not able to work in the "agricultural economy."

Another day, another unexplained stay of execution. This one is particularly egregious. A triple murderer.

This guy has had all his appeals, and the Supreme Court didn't deign to explain why the equities favor a stay for a guy who has had his full round of appeals. Public servants need to do more, and Congress needs to prohibit federal courts from staying executions.

I also would like to know the reason for the stay. Was it because the petition was filed so late and the court had insufficient time to review it? Or, was it because, as the triple murderer's supporters are implying, they are holding it until the court decides Martinez vs. Ryan next term?

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