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Study Claims 2,000 Exonerated in 23 Years: Pete Yost of the Associated Press reports a national database compiled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law claims more than 2,000 people have been exonerated for serious crimes in the U.S. in the past 23 years. The database compiled and analyzed really only contains information on 873 exonerations that have the most detailed evidence, with researchers saying they are aware of nearly 1,200 other exonerations, for which they don't have as much data. Nearly half of the 873 exonerations were homicide cases, and DNA evidence led to exoneration in about one-third of those 416 homicides. The researches estimates that there are nearly a million felony convictions in the U.S. a year, making that 873 exonerations out of 23 million felony convictions in the past 23 years.

Missouri Supreme Court Urged to Set Execution Dates or Explain Why Not:
Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion Thursday seeking execution dates for nine men, and asking the Missouri Supreme Court why 10 others whose execution dates had been requested previously were not yet set.  Koster has noted a change in 'political sentiment' in regards to the death penalty, causing the reluctance in moving forward in cases. However, Koster argues, "the political world doesn't affect the carrying out of these sentences until legislatures act...I have an obligation to strictly follow the letter of the law. The Supreme Court does as well."

Federal Survey Shows Drug Use in Over 60% of Males Arrested in 2011: Fred Lucas of CNS News reports over 60% of the males arrested in 2011 in 10 major cities for felony and misdemeanor crimes used drugs, according to a report released Thursday by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The cities include Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C. The drugs tested for include marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/methamphetamine, Darvon, PCP, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates. Alcohol was not included. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, with an average of 45% of males arrested using it, and cocaine second at about 25% in most of the cities. 

Terminally-Ill Convicted Murderer May Be Released: Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a state appeals court in San Francisco Thursday reversed a Lake County judge's decision last November to keep convicted killed Carl Wade in prison in California. In 1986, Wade shot a fellow woodcutter with whom he shared his trailer in Lake County. Wade was convicted of first-degree murder with a sentence of 32 years to life in prison. State doctors have said that Wade is terminally ill and wheel chair bound, needing continuous infusions of oxygen to breathe. Prison officials and the Board of Parole Hearings recommended Wade be released under  the state's compassionate-release law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office must now decide whether to release him or appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

California Lawmakers Consider Bills to Help Ex-Felons Find Jobs: Hannah Drier and Don Thompson of the Associated Press report three bills are being considered by California lawmakers which would make it easier for ex-convicts to find jobs after release. Two of the bills are in the Assembly, and one in the Senate. SB1506 would make possessing drugs for personal use a misdemeanor rather than a felony, and the maximum sentence reduced to one year behind bars rather than three. This would not extend to drugs possessed for sale. AB 1831 would prohibit cities and counties from requesting criminal background information on job applications. After determining initial qualification for a position, local governments could still run a background check. This would not extend to applications for law enforcement positions, nor those which involve working near children, the elderly, or the disabled. AB 2263 would allow judges to expunge the criminal records of felons who were sentenced to county jail under realignment upon completing their probation.



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