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Death Row Inmate Writes Taunting Letter to Public: Diane Turbyfill of the Gaston Gazette reports North Carolina death row inmate Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. wrote a letter to the newspaper, challenging Gaston County to put him to death. Hembree is on death row for suffocating to death a 17-year-old girl in 2009, and has two other murder charges pending. Hembree asked if the public was aware that the chances of his execution taking place in the next 20 years, if ever, are slim. "Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the a/c, reading, taking naps at will, eating three well-balanced meals a day?" he asked. A link to the handwritten letter is included in the article.

Only in Utah: Jennifer Dobner of the Associated Press reports the Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from death row inmate Von Lester Taylor, who claims the jury selection process in the penalty phase of his trial unfairly favored Mormons. Taylor was sentenced to death for killing 72-year-old Beth Potts and her 49-year-old daughter, Kaye Tiede, during a break-in in 1990. Police said Taylor repeatedly shot the two woman, then shot Tiede's husband before kidnapping two of his daughters and setting the cabin on fire. The two daughters were rescued by law enforcement. Tiede's husband survived, despite being shot point-blank in the head and doused with gasoline when the cabin was set on fire.

Some CA Judges Want More Say in New Sentencing Rules:
Tracey Kaplan of San Jose Mercury News reports some California Superior Court judges are wanting to keep track of certain felons for a longer period of time than the new realignment plan calls for. Under realignment, judges can order defendants to serve their whole sentence behind bars, in which case they will have no supervision upon release, or split the sentence set by law between jail time and mandatory supervision. Some judges are now seeking the option to tack on a period of supervision to offenders sentenced to the full term in county jail.

Oklahoma and New Jersey Introduce Legislation to Reduce Prison Costs: Michael McNutt of The Oklahoman reports Oklahoma House Bill 3052 would reduce the sentences for certain second-time marijuana possession offenders and allow violent offenders to start earning credits toward reducing their prison term after serving 85 percent of their sentence. MaryAnn Spoto of The Star Ledger (NJ) reports a package of bills were introduced by state Senators in New Jersey that would
require the state Parole Board to release inmates when they reach their parole eligibility date unless they had committed a serious infraction while in prison or had not participated in rehabilitation programs, give judges and prosecutors more discretion on who could be tried in a drug court, repeal the ban on convicted felons working in places where alcohol is sold, and prohibit employers from automatically disqualifying convicted felons from jobs.   

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