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News Scan

CA Sex Offender Arrested for Murder: Phil Willon of the Los Angeles Times reports that transient sex offender Jerome Anthony Rogers was arrested for the November 14 home-invasion murder of 76-year-old Mary Beth Blaskey. According to San Bernardino Police Chief Rob Handy, Rogers' DNA matches a sample taken from the crime scene. Rogers is also being investigated for the December 2010 murder of Wanda Paulin, 86, and the September 2005 death of 90-year-old Josephine Kelley. Rogers' criminal history includes sodomizing a 14-year-old girl. Melissa Pinion-Whitt of the San Bernardino Sun reports Rogers was sentenced to 36 months probation late last year for failing to register as a sex offender.

Assaults Increase in San Joaquin Jail Under Realignment: Jennie Rodriguez-Moore of the Record reports that San Joaquin County Jail has seen a surge in inmate violence, gangs, and drug smuggling under Realignment. According to Sheriff Steve Moore, AB109 is sending felons and parolees that are used to prison incarceration to jail. Assaults in the jail increased 27 percent from 2011 to 2012. In 2011, there were 152 assaults, 52 involving gang members, in the jail. In 2012, the number soared to 209, with over half involving gang members. So far this year there have been 59 assaults, 29 involving gangs.

CA Prison Mental Health System Not Ready for Transition:  Don Thompson of the Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton has rejected California's bid for transition of control over its prison mental health care facilities back to the state. The federal judge ruled Friday that CA did not prove its level of care meets U.S. Constitutional standards. With more than 32,000 mentally ill prisoners, the CA prison system has a suicide rate at 24 per 100,000 inmates. The figure is three times higher than the national average of 16 per 100,000 inmates. Judge Karlton threw out some data pointing to improved conditions gathered by state experts because they had talked to inmates without alerting their attorneys. The state will appeal the ruling on behalf of Governor Brown. Continued from this News Scan.

AL Murderer Loses Appeal, Stays on Death Row:  Kelsey Stein of Alabama News reports that Alabama murderer Robert Bryant Melson's appeal of his death sentence was rejected Thursday, by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Melson was convicted of the 1994 shooting murders of three employee of a Popeye's restaurant, and leaving a fourth for dead.  Melson, 22 at the time, and accomplice Cuhuatemoc Hinricky Peraita, who was 17, entered through the back of the establishment, stole $2,000, forced the employees into the restaurant's freezer unit, then shut them inside. When the door opened one of the pair, believed to be Melson, opened fire on the employees.  In his third unsuccessful appeal Melson's claimed  "attorney abandonment" had been rejected by the U.S. District Court.  His accomplice was serving a life sentence until he was sentenced to death for murdering a fellow inmate.

Concerned Clovis Citizens Call for Realignment Reform: Stephanie Stone of ABC News reports that parents in Clovis, California are trying to organize against, and raise awareness about, AB109. Autumn, a Clovis resident with three children, cites the influx of criminals such as Michael Anthony Wyatt into her neighborhood. Wyatt, a felony sex offender, was arrested on a high school campus in March. He was released from Fresno County jail because of overcrowding, a direct result of Realignment. The Sacramento-based Advocates for Public Safety is trying to change AB109. The group's director, Lynne Brown, is raising awareness about AB109's dangers in neighborhoods statewide. Under Realignment, 500 felonies are classified as non serious, non violent, and non sexual. Brown says this broad definition is letting violent, dangerous criminals back into communities like Clovis, placing the public at risk.

Santa Cruz Crime Rate Among Top in CA:  Jason Hoppin of the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that crime in Santa Cruz, California is becoming a major issue. The city had a rate of one property crime for every 18 citizens in 2011, higher than Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vallejo. The rise in violent crime claimed the lives of two police officers in February. Discussed here. In response Santa Cruz residents have formed groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, co-founded by City Council member Pamela Comstock. City Councilman Don Lane cites the city's party town environment as a contributing factor to crime, noting that people often come to the city to drink and indulge in drug use, particularly meth and heroin. Due to the city's 2006 adoption of Measure K, weakening marijuana laws, the Police Department lost some of its cohesion with the DEA, weakening its ability to enforce laws against harder drugs. The city also has a large transient population, which is debated as a possible factor for the high crime levels.The City Council will be discussing Santa Cruz's crime problem this week.

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