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News Scan

Counties Vary in Approach to Realignment: Vauhini Vara of The Wall Street Journal reports that as counties have begun experimenting with how to manage the inmate shift from the state prison under realignment, local residents in Kern, Merced, and San Joaquin counties have protested the early releases of criminals from overcrowded jails. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood says he understands the outcry. "It's a put-'em-in-custody kind of county--we don't have a lot of sympathy for people who commit crimes," he said. Barry Krisberg, a criminal-justice expert at the University of California, Berkeley, refers to realignment as "...'justice by geography,' depending on where you get arrested." Kern County has nearly doubled the amount of inmates supervised on electronic monitoring and other out-of-custody programs since October. Local Bakersfield bicycle shop owner Jesse Frederick said he is sympathetic to the sheriff's dilemma, but worries, "It can be like the Wild West out there if we're not careful."

Four Inmates Have Racial Justice Act Hearing: Allen Reed of the Associated Press reports lawyers were already testing the boundaries of the reworked Racial Justice Act days after the North Carolina legislature overrode the Governor's veto of the scaled back law. Four death row inmates - two black men, one American Indian woman, and one European man - convicted of first degree murder in Cumberland County are seeking to have their sentences reviewed. Friday's hearing was held before Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks, the only judge who has reduced a death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole under the original Racial Justice Act. Nearly all of the state's death row inmates applied for a reduced sentenced under the 2009 law. The revised law provides a clear framework for future convictions, but currently at issue is whether the appeals made by inmates before the law was changed will be applied under the original law or under the new version. Judge Weeks set an October 1 date for the evidentiary hearing.

New Jersey Lawmaker Wants to Expand State's "Megan's Law" to Internet: Matt Friedman of the Statehouse Bureau reports that New Jersey State Senator Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R, Somerset) submitted a bill Monday to require sex offenders to list on social networking websites the crime they were convicted of, their address, where the crime took place, a description of their physical appearance, and a link to their entry on the state's official sex offender registry. The bill is based on a similar law recently enacted in Louisiana. "In many ways, sex offenders can use the Internet as a venue and a means to plot and begin to carry out their crimes against vulnerable and unsuspecting victims," Bateman said in a statement. "This legislation supplements Megan's Law to assist law enforcement agencies in stepping up their increasingly successful efforts targeting and fighting Internet sex crimes." Offenders would face up to 18 months in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine for violating the law.

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