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News Scan

Idaho Updates Execution Policy: The Associated Press reports Idaho state officials and news organizations filed an agreement with Boise's U.S. District Court on Monday on a new policy that will allow witnesses to view the entire execution procedure. Although journalists were allowed for the first time to view the entire procedure at the June 12 execution of Richard Albert Leavitt, the state and news organizations had to agree on the wording of a permanent execution access rule in order for the lawsuit filed by the news organizations to formally come to an end.

San Quentin Prison Spokesman Answers Questions About Scott Peterson: FoxNews.com reports a list of questions about death row inmate Scott Peterson was recently submitted to San Quentin prison by Fox News Channel San Francisco bureau correspondent Claudia Cowan and producer Mike Lundin. The answers were provided by prison spokesman Samuel Robinson. He said Peterson is allowed 5 hours of outdoor recreational activities daily. Since his arrival at San Quentin, Peterson has not had a job assignment and has not taken any classes.

Chicago Mayor Defends Strategy as Homicides Spike: Don Babwin of the Associated Press reports Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy defended their new gang-fighting strategy Monday as Chicago homicides are up nearly 38 percent so far this year from last year. Instead of large, specialized units dropping into crime-ridden areas for a short amount of time, beat officers are now staying in specific areas on the streets. Emanuel also announced on Monday a plan for the city to spend $4 million to board up or tear down vacant buildings where gangs hide out, deal and store drugs, and hide guns.

CA Man Awaiting Sentencing Escaped from Medium-Security Placement: Cathy Kelly of the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that on Friday, Richard Norman Sasse escaped from the medium-security Rountree Detention Center in Santa Cruz County. Sasse has not yet been sentenced for allegedly robbing a woman last year. Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Carney said Sasse should be considered dangerous. He was placed in Rountree in December, after completing an assessment by jail staff that looks at an inmate's criminal history. Sasse would not qualify as a non-serious, non-violent, or non-sexual offender under realignment, and overcrowding in the county's jail caused by realignment may have influence his placement. Carney said Sasse would "potentially not" have been placed at Rountree if it were not for the stress on the overcrowded maximum-security county jail. "Back in the old days, they would have been able to manage population at County Jail and not have to use Rountree as an extra place to put people," he said.

San Diego DA Responds to Realignment: Dana Littlefield of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports in San Diego County, one offender supervised by local probation since being release from prison has been arrested on a murder charge, and five others on attempted murder charges. "I think it's cause for concern,"  said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. As of last week, Dumanis said about 1,300 cases had been sentenced under realignment in San Diego County, where defendants will serve their sentence in jail rather than prison. "I've been pretty consistent in saying that I don't think this was a well-thought-out plan," she said. "The issue is Sacramento has put us in jeopardy, and we're doing our best to keep the public safe." The San Diego Association of Governments analyzed crime statistics from the last three months of 2011, which were the first three months realignment was in effect, and compared them to the same time period in 2010. The results showed a 6 percent uptick in property crimes. 

LA County Looks to House Inmates in Central Valley Jails: report the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is in discussions with two Kern County cities to use their jails to house up to 1,000 low-level offenders due to concerns of overcrowding. The Sheriff's Department is also considering talks with two other Central Valley cities. Since realignment went into effect, more than 5,000 inmates who would previously have been housed in state prisons have been shifted to Los Angeles County. Assistant Sheriff Cecil W. Rhambo Jr. said the department is also considering using electronic monitoring for some defendants accused of drug crimes and prostitution rather than jail detention, and releasing more women with electronic monitoring systems. Last year, sheriff's officials told The Times that the idea of sending inmates to a facility outside the county would only occur under extreme circumstances. According to the Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore, the county's early release policy already calls for nonviolent offenders to serve 20% of their jail terms. Whitemore added that documented gang members will serve their full sentences. Rhambo said other violent offenders serve 75% of their jail terms.

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