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News Scan

No on Prop. 34 Editorial: The Orange County Register has this editorial on Proposition 34, which if passed would reduce all death sentences in California to life without parole. About 2% of the state's most heinous criminals are on death row, the special circumstances required for a death penalty include murder in concert with robbery, rape, and torture, to kill a witness. The state has safeguards in place to ensure no inmate who may be innocent is executed. Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens says the death penalty process costs are high because defense attorneys and opponents to capital punishment "have made the process as long and difficult as possible." Opponents are concerned the passing of Prop. 34 may lead to lesser punishments for the most horrific crimes. 

CA Death Row Inmates Would Vote No on Prop. 34: Bob Egelko of the SF Chronicle  reports evidence shows most of the 725 death row inmates in California would vote against Prop. 34 this November. The reason, he says, is that state funded counsel and investigators for habeas corpus are only available for death penalty cases, and by eliminating the death penalty Prop. 34 would eliminate reduce inmate appellate rights by no longer having state funded legal representation for habeas corpus. Actually the difference is not quite that stark.  Life-sentenced inmates sometimes get appointed counsel, but it is discretionary rather than a matter of right.  Voters will decide on the initiative this November.

Yolo County Releasing Inmates Early: Don Frances of the Daily Democrat reports the Monroe Detention Center in Yolo County has been releasing inmates early in response to overcrowding since AB 109 took effect last October. Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto said 165 of the 485 beds in the county are occupied by realigned inmates. County jails are becoming a more prison-like environment. Furthermore, before AB 109 inmates sentenced to more than three years went to prison. Inmates can now be sentenced to terms of 18 years in a county jail.

Juvenile Killer Parole Hurts Victim Families:
Elizabeth Chuck of NBC News has this article on the effect on murder victims families that a law giving juvenile killers a chance for parole after serving 25 years in prison.  Members of a support group called the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers argue that releasing these inmates would have both emotional and legal implications.

Al. Ex-Professor Sentenced to LWOP: Robbie Brown of the New York Times headlines ex-University of Alabama professor Amy Bishop was sentenced to life without parole Monday. Update to this news scan.

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