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News Scan

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Paroled Murderer Charged in Cold Case Killing: A man convicted of second-degree murder and paroled after spending only eight years behind bars has been arrested in the cold case murder of a Utah girl.  The Associated Press reports that 46-year-old Joseph Simpson was arrested and charged with aggravated murder after authorities were able to find a DNA match on a cigarette butt at the scene left over 18 years ago.  17-year-old Krystal Beslanowitch was murdered in December of 1995, only eight months after Simpson had been paroled for his second-degree murder charge. 

California Signs Contract with Private-Prison: The state of California has signed a contract with a private prison contractor to lease cell-space for 1,400 inmates in an effort to alleviate the issue of overcrowding.  Paige St. John of the Los Angeles Times reports that the deal includes two lower-security privately owned prisons in California, and will begin receiving inmates by the end of the year.  Governor Brown has asked a panel of federal judges to delay the court-ordered release of 9,600 inmates for three years, and is expected to hear their ruling by Friday.

Death Row Inmate Loses Appeal: A man convicted in the quadruple-murder of an Alabama family and sentenced to death for the crime has lost his latest attempt at an appeal.  Kelsey Stein of al.com reports that 35-year-old Michael Samra accompanied and participated in the murders of his friend's father, step-mother, and her two daughters after the man refused to let his son borrow his truck.  Samra is appealing his death sentence due to the fact that his co-defendant, who was 16 at the time of the murders, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison after a Supreme Court''s 2005 ruling in Roper v. Simmons which announced that the Eighth Amendment prohibited the execution of murderers under the age of 18.

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Kent, do you think that an action could be brought under Marsy's Law to stop any early release of inmates? Under Marsy's Law, "[s]entences . . . shall not be substantially diminished by early release policies intended to alleviate overcrowding in custodial facilities. The legislative branch shall ensure sufficient funding to adequately house inmates for the full terms of their sentences . . . ." This right is one "shared with all of the People of the State of California," who thus might have standing to bring suit. The Voter's Guide analysis specifically warned that this provision would "restrict the early release of inmates" and could cost "hundreds of millions of dollars annually."

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