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News Scan

CA Inmates Serving Long Jail Sentences Under Realignment: A summary letter from the California State Sheriffs' Association reports that as of February 25, 2013, there are 1,109 county jail inmates who have been sentenced between 5 to 10 years in 52 counties. These offenders are most commonly sentenced for vehicle theft, commercial burglary, receiving stolen property, identity theft, and drug trafficking. There are also 44 inmates sentenced to more than 10 years in county jail. The longest sentence of 43 years in jail comes from Los Angeles County. A detailed spreadsheet of inmates with long jail sentenced can be viewed here.

CA Bills Introduced to Fix Realignment's MDO Loophole: Beatriz E. Valenzuela of the Contra Costa Times reports California Senator Bill Emmerson and Assemblyman Chris Holden have introduced two bills, Senate Bill 226 and Assembly Bill 1065 respectively, to end a Realignment loophole for mentally disabled offenders. SB 226 would evaluate offenders to both determine where their sentence should be served and what sorts of mental health treatment need to be provided before release eligibility. AB 1065 would mean parolees who have been classified as MDOs would remain under state, not county, supervision. Counties do not have the availability of resources to adequately treat MDOs. The implications of Realignment on MDOs is discussed in this CJLF Press Release, and this News Scan.

PA Jury Recommends Death for Torture Killer: Rich Cholodofsky of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports a jury sentenced torture killing mastermind Ricky Smyrnes to death Thursday in Pennsylvania. Smyrnes and five roommates tortured and killed mentally disabled Jennifer Daugherty over the course of two days in February 2010. Daugherty was stabbed 24 times, three times fatally in the heart. The sexual and physical abuse Smyrnes suffered as a child, and his mental illness, did not justify removing the death penalty from the case. CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger discusses the mental illness claim here. One roommate, Angela Marinucci, was sentenced to life in prison; Melvin Knight, who delivered the fatal stabs to Daugherty's heart, was sentenced to death. Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway will sentence Smyrnes Friday at 1:30 p.m.. Smyrnes' attorney, Terrance Faye, will appeal the verdict. Continued from this News Scan.

CA Death Sentence Likely in Cold Case: The Associated Press reports a jury recommended Thursday that a judge sentence rapist, killer Jason Balcom to death. In 2004, his DNA was matched to the July 1988 rape and murder of pregnant newlywed Malinda Gibbons. He gagged, bound, sodomized, raped, and fatally stabbed her. Balcom has since been convicted of two rapes of woman, one days after killing Gibbons and the other a month later. Case discussed in this News Scan.

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