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News Scan

Executions Scheduled in Nebraska and Oklahoma: Joe Duggan of the Omaha World Herald reports the Nebraska Supreme Court has set a March 6, 2012 execution date for cult leader Michael Ryan. Ryan ordered one of his followers to undergo torture that included sodomy, the shooting of his fingertips, and partial skinning by a knife, and was convicted of his first-degree murder. He was also convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of a 5-year-old boy who was the son of a cult member. The last execution in Nebraska was in 1997 by electric chair. Ryan would be the first inmate executed in Nebraska by lethal injection. Rachel Petersen of McAlester News (OK) reports the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set February 16, 2012 as the execution date for Garry Thomas Allen, who murdered his wife in 1986.

CA Serial Killer Found Dead:
Mike TeSelle of KCRA (Sacramento) reports triple-murderer Loren Herzog was pronounced dead from an apparent suicide. He had been living in a trailer outside the front gate of the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, CA since his release in September 2010. Herzog was originally sentenced to 78 years to life in prison, but pleaded down to voluntary manslaughter after his conviction was overturned on appeal when it was ruled that his statements were illegally coerced. Herzog served 11 years in prison. His co-defendant, Wesley Shermantine, is currently on death row in California. A news release from the Lassen County Sheriff said "an official determination related to the cause of death won't be made until after the investigation and an autopsy are completed."

What CA Prison Realignment Has Wrought So Far:
Brik McDill, a senior supervising psychologist at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, has this opinion piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the effects so far of Governor Brown's inmate realignment law (AB109), which went into effect last October. He says at this point there are many foreseeable problems and few solutions.

Jerry Brown Proposes Cutting $1 Billion From Prisons: Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle reports California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to cut state prison funding for the first time in nearly a decade by $1.1 billion next fiscal year. Referring to the general fund spending on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Brown said Friday, "we're knocking it down, and we'll knock it down further." State Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R), a former parole board chairman, predicts the savings will not last in the long-run, and says any savings for taxpayers would be eliminated by counties having to ultimately raise local taxes to fully pay for realignment.

Rhode Island Bill Would Reinstate Death Penalty: The Associated Press reports Rhode Island Senator John Tassoni (D) and two other state senators have introduced a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Rhode Island. He says the legislation was motivated by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision last year to keep a man accused of murder in state custody, when he could have faced the death penalty in federal court. The death penalty would be authorized in the state for those convicted of first-degree murder with one of seven listed aggravating circumstances. The text of the bill is here.

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