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Florida Lawmaker Proposes Firing Squad Option for Executions: Toluse Olorunnipa of The Miami Herald reports Florida Rep. Brad Drake, a Republican from the town of Eucheeanna, has introduced a bill that would let death row inmates choose between a firing squad or the electric chair. House Bill 325 would give condemned inmates 30 days after the Supreme Court affirms their executions to opt for a firing squad. If the inmate does not choose a firing squad, he would be electrocuted. Drake's bill was drafted in response to recent controversy regarding Florida's new lethal injection process. Drake says he is tired of all the talk about how to properly execute someone, and hopes his bill will start a new conversation about the death penalty. 

Detectives Hope DNA Will Help Identify 8 Unknown Victims of Notorious Serial Killer: Steve Mills and Ryan Haggerty of The Chicago Tribune report a team of investigators and scientists are using advances in DNA technology to compare skeletal remains of 8 unidentified victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was executed in 1994. Most of Gacy's 33 victims were identified using dental records and X-rays, which was considered state of the art in the 1970s. Seven of the unidentified victims were found in a crawl space beneath Gacy's house, and the eighth was found buried in his yard. The process will be a difficult scientific endeavor, since DNA from skeletal remains this old can be degraded and fragile. The effort began earlier this year as part of a broader review of Cook County's sheriff's department's cold cases.

New Approach to Releasing Prisoners in One California County: Tracey Kaplan of San Jose Mercury News reports Santa Clara County is taking a controversial approach on how to supervise "low risk" felons after they leave prison as the state shifts responsibility for released felons from state parole agents to county probation officers. In order to prove that the Governor's inmate realignment can reduce the "revolving door" of justice, the county plans to use the majority of its $15.1 million in state funding for rehabilitation programs rather than time in jail. For example, instead of jailing parolees with dirty drug tests, the county will try alternatives like cognitive behavioral counseling and residential treatment. Santa Clara County is also sending in teams of law enforcement professionals to conduct pre-release interviews with inmates and offering housing and job training. Critics warn that this type of approach jeopardizes public safety by putting more felons on the streets sooner. Another concern is that while a parolee's most recent offense must be nonviolent to qualify for county supervision, many still have violent criminal histories.

Second Petit Murderer Convicted:  A Connecticut jury has convicted Joshua Komisarjevsky of the 2007 murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and the sexual assault and murder of her two teen-aged daughters.  The same jury will decide if he should receive life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty for the gruesome killings.  Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes was convicted and sentenced to death for raping and strangling the mother and participating the murder of the two daughters last year.   Both habitual criminals were in community rehabilitation when they planned and carried out the home invasion murderers.  Komisarievsky admitted knocking the husband and father unconscious with a baseball bat and throwing him in the basement, and molesting the youngest daughter, but blamed Hayes for the murders.  AP writer John Christoffersen has the rest of the story.

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