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News Scan

MS Reviewing Inmate's Release Eligibility:  Mississippi's Earned Release Supervision program, which lets inmates earn time off of their sentences by completing education courses, exercising good behavior, and participating in other programs, has allowed one inmate, sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter, to gain eligibility for release.  The AP reports that participation in the program depends upon behavior and work ethic, and once granted release, inmates remain under control of Corrections and are not permitted to leave the state.  In response to objections by family members of the inmate's murder victim, prosecutors are looking to amend the law to require that 85 percent of inmates' sentences are served.

State Defends its Treatment of Mentally Ill Inmates:  California launched its defense on Tuesday over its methods of handling mentally ill inmates, which included testimony of a California State Prison psychiatrist that stated prolonged restraint of prisoners and the use of pepper spray is sometimes necessary to save inmates' lives.  Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton of The Sacramento Bee report that earlier this month, the inmates' lawyers played a graphic video in court of the cell extraction of a particular inmate, hoping that the shocking footage would persuade the judge to impose limits on the staff's use of force.  However, the state continues to argue that the scenes displayed are not representative of the efforts made by staff members to prevent injury to patients and preserve life.

Advocates Seek Restoration of Felon Voting Rights:  Inmate advocates are pushing Kentucky lawmakers to restore voting rights to most non-violent felons once their sentences have been completed.  Mike Wynn of the Courier-Journal reports that Kentucky is only one of four states that permanently bars felons from voting, inadvertently impacting the disproportionately high number of African American ex-convicts.  Studies show that voting rights are related to reduced recidivism. 

Tougher Gang Laws Sought in South Carolina:  State lawmakers are moving legislation to reform state laws on gang violence and repeat offenders, in the wake of a recent shooting that left an 18-year-old college student paralyzed.  Zachary Treu of Greenville Online reports that the reforms include updating language regarding gang member recruitment, sentencing enhancements for gang-related crimes, and minimum bond requirements for gang-related crimes. Senate Bill 19 and House Bill 3051, are currently making their way through the state legislature. Legislators also announced that they will look at the records of judges up for reappointment and oppose those with a history of releasing individuals from jail who should remain incarcerated.

Arizona Scheduled to Execute 2nd Inmate this Month:  Robert Glen Jones Jr., convicted of the 1996 murders of six people in two armed robberies, is scheduled to be executed today in Arizona.  Walter Berry of the Associated Press reports that Jones was out on parole at the time of the crimes, after serving time for burglary and grand theft.  He will become the 36th inmate executed in Arizona since 1992 and the second inmate in the state to be put to death by lethal injection in the past two weeks.  Update:  The execution began at 10:35 a.m. MST, and Jones was pronounced dead at 10:52, Hipolito Corella reports in the Arizona Daily Star.

Missouri Switches to New Execution Drug: Missouri is the latest state to switch over to a new lethal injection drug after the governor announced nearly two weeks ago that he was halting executions until a new drug could be found.  Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports that Missouri will join a list of 13 other states by utilizing the sedative pentobarbital in future executions.  The state is also using a compounding pharmacy to produce the drug in order to alleviate supply problems. Missouri's first execution using the new drug is scheduled for November 20, 2013. 

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