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News Scan

TX Prisons Block Illegal Cellphone Use by Inmates:  The Associated Press reports that Texas is beginning to test equipment in its state prison system aimed at blocking illegally smuggled cellphones used by inmates. In addition to blocking calls, the managed access systems diverts text messages, emails and log-in attempts. The two prisons in which the system is being tested are considered to have the highest incidents of cellphone smuggling. Illegal inmate cellular use is a widespread problem. The last two years saw the capture of 1,368 cellphones found in inmate possession. Criminals have utilized cellphones to coordinate gang activities and harassment. Continued from News Scans here and here.

CA Seeks to Regain Control of Prison System:  Sam Stanton and Denny Walsh of the Sacramento Bee report California is seeking to regain control of its prison system after 18 years of federal oversight. In 1995, a federal court said California's 'substandard' prison mental health care played a key role in the state's high rate of inmate suicides. Citing reforms and increased funding for inmate mental health, Gov. Jerry Brown claims the state has solved its problems. Since 1999, 437 inmates have committed suicide in a state prison. An annual report from national suicide expert and special master's team member Dr. Raymond F. Patterson cited the state's prison inmate suicide rate at 23.72 per 100,000 in 2012. The national average was 16 per 100,000 last year. The state will make its case in court March 27.

CA Spree Robber Was Released Under Realignment:
Brian Maxey of KMPH Fox 26 reports that gang member and registered sex offender Willie Murphy was arrested Saturday after a two-month armed robbery spree in Fresno. Murphy robbed six different businesses while acting like a regular customer. He would reveal a gun upon approaching the register and rob the location. Sontaya Rose of ABC News reports that Murphy was released on post-release community supervision under AB109. He was able to avoid parole and GPS tracking by committing the so-called non-serious, nonviolent, nonsexual felony of attacking a corrections officer.

AZ Attorney General Will Appeal Overturned Conviction:  Greg Botelho and Deanna Hackney of CNN report that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne will appeal the overturned conviction and death sentence of Debra Milke. She was convicted by jury on October 12, 1990 of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping, shortly after the execution-style death of her young son. Milke was sentenced to death months later. The conviction was overturned Thursday by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Discussed in this post by Kent Scheidegger.

Trial Date Set for Killers of Officer:  Michael Doyle of the Sun-Star reports that inmates Joseph Cabrera Sablan and James Ninete Leon Guerrero will face trails for killing federal correctional officer Jose Rivera at the U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in California on July 23, 2003. Sablan and Guerrero were both federal inmates from Guam serving life sentences. Continued from this blog entry.

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