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News Scan

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Ohio Governor Commutes Admitted Killer's Death Sentence: Kim Palmer of Reuters reports Ohio Governor John Kasich on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of John Jeffrey Eley to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Eley was convicted for shooting a man to death during a 1986 robbery. He confessed to the killing and was sentenced to death in 1987. He was scheduled to be executed July 26. The Ohio Parole Board voted not to grant clemency for Eley. It is the third time the governor has commuted a death sentence in a little over a year.

Brazil Implements Another Program to Reduce Sentences: The Associated Press reports a program at a prison in Brazil's southeastern Minas Gerais allows inmates to reduce their sentences in exchange for riding stationary bikes, which are hooked up to a battery that generates power to light street lamps in the town at night. For every three eight-hour days of pedaling, participants in the voluntary program get one day taken off their sentences. See our previous post here about federal inmates in Brazil getting reduced sentences through a reading program.

Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Sues State Over Three-Drug Execution: Sean Murphy of the Associated Press reports Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Hooper on Tuesday asked a federal court to halt his execution scheduled for next month because the state has only one dose left of pentobarbital, the first drug used in the state's three-drug lethal injection process. An attorney for Hooper said if the drug fails to render him unconscious, the state has no backup plan. "It's never not worked," said Oklahoma prisons spokesman Jerry Massie. Hooper is scheduled to be executed August 14 for the 1993 killings of his 23-year-old ex-girlfriend, and her two children, ages 5 and 3. He shot each victim twice in the head, and buried their bodies in a shallow grave in a field. "The (Oklahoma Department of Corrections) protocol is outmoded and, compared to the one-drug protocol now employed by four other states in over 20 executions, creates a risk of cruel and unusual punishment which is now unacceptable," Hooper's attorney Jim Drummond wrote in the motion.

Australian Press Considers California Death Penalty Repeal Debate: The Australian Broadcasting Company reports on one of the upcoming decisions Californians will be making at the polls this November - whether or not to abolish the state's death penalty. Sandy Friend, whose 8-year-old son Michael Lyons was sexually assaulted and murdered by California death row inmate Robert Rhodes, says, "They're not just normal criminals. These are very, very evil, sadistic criminals and I feel that the only punishment that is anything of justice for a family like mine and my community is death." Kent Scheidegger, CJLF's legal director, says death penalty opponents are pushing the measure now because of the state's budget crisis, even though the costs of the death penalty are a small fraction of the entire state budget.

CA Supreme Court Clarifies Scope of Restitution: Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that under the state's restitution law, the victim of a property crime is entitled to an amount of restitution that will allow them to restore the item to its previous condition. The court said that if the property damaged by a crime can be repaired, the criminal who damaged it must pay the cost, instead of the victim having to find a replacement at a comparable price. The decision came in the case of Leroy Stanley, who in 2009 pounded on a pickup owned by Patricia Short-Lyster while it was parked outside her home, severely denting it and making a rear door inoperable. Stanley appealed the $2,800 repair bill he was ordered to pay, saying the amount of restitution he is ordered to pay should be limited to the value of the property. 

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From the Brazil story: "Every night just before sunset, a guard drives the charged battery from the prison, on the outskirts of town, to the downtown promenade. He hooks it up to the converter and a few minutes later the 10 street lamps begin to glow a soft white, like full moons suspended over the rushing waters of the river."

LOL. Driving the charged battery downtown burns far more energy than the battery contains.

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