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News Scan

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CA Gov. Seeks Return of Prison Control to State: Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on California Governor Jerry Brown's Tuesday news conference announcing that he wants the federal courts to return control of the prison system back to the state. Brown argues that reducing the current prison population of 119,213 to the mandated 110,000 by June 2013 as ordered would put public safety at risk. He suggested that to comply, dangerous criminals, including murderers, would have to be released.  The 110,000 inmate population cap is based on a design capacity of one inmate per cell.  Saunders also reports that CJLF President Mike Rushford asked why Brown did not address the prison overcrowding by building more prisons. While the Governor says there is no money for new prisons, Rushford points out that unspent bond-funding allocated for prisons in 2007 could be used. Apparently, building a high-speed train from Merced to Bakersfield costing six billion dollars is justifiable, but building prisons to keep dangerous offenders who victimize innocent Californians off the streets is not.

LA Crime Increased in 2012: Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times reports overall crime in Los Angeles increased in 2012, despite a slight decline in murders. Last year, the city had 166 homicides committed, compared to 170 in 2011; a 2.3 % drop. This is the lowest the city has seen since 1970. However, gang-related homicides increased by 10.5% in the same time period. Shootings involving deputies increased to 49 in 2012. There were 37 the previous year. Overall crime from 2011 to 2012 went up 3%. Violent crime rose 3.5%. This includes rape, murder, assault, and robbery. Serious crime went up 4.2%. Property crimes rose to 4.3%.

Alleged 9/11 Attackers Will Not Face Conspiracy Charges: Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal also reports that on Wednesday the Defense Department moved to drop conspiracy charges against alleged September 11, 2001, terror attacks planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants. In October, the DC Circuit threw out Salim Hamdan's 2008 conviction. Hamdan was Osama Bin Laden's driver during the time of the 9/11 attacks. He was arrested in November 2001, but his offenses were not classified as war crimes until 2006. As a result the conviction applied the law ex-post facto.  This same reasoning is said to apply to the conspiracy charges against Mohammed. The Obama administration will decide by Friday whether to appeal the appeal court's decision in Hamdan or seek a rehearing.   

Attempted Car Bomber Argues Entrapment: Joel Millman of the Wall Street Journal reports the trial for Mohamed Osman Mohamud will open Thursday in Portland, Oregon. He pleaded not guilty to the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. In November 2010, Mohamud, 19 at the time, allegedly tried to set off a car bomb at downtown Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony. According to the FBI, the plan was part of a terrorism sting. The actions of Mohamud were coordinated by the FBI. The radical Islamists that Mohamud was in contact with were government operatives. The defense will argue the sting entrapped Mohamud. No such entrapment argument has worked since 2001. 

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