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News Scan

CA Given Two More Years to Reduce Prison Population: A three-judge panel of federal judges has decided to give California two more years to meet a court-ordered inmate population cap.  Howard Mintz of Mercury News reports that the deadline has been pushed back to February 2016, but with the extension also comes more strict guidelines with how the state will have to reduce its overcrowded prisons, including setting a limit on the amount of inmates that can be moved to out-of-state prisons.  The judge also ordered the state to either release or move certain types of inmates out of prison through several measures including setting earlier parole eligibility for selected nonviolent offenders, alternative custody programs for female inmates, and easing parole for inmates who are older than 60 and have served at least 25 years in prison.

Vancouver Offers Residents Access to Crack-Pipe Vending Machines: InSite, a Canadien non-profit group, has elected to instal crack-pipe vending machines in Vancouver in an effort to prevent the spread of disease among the city's drug users.  CTV News reports that the vending machines, which are covered in brightly-painted polka dots, offer users a chance to purchase a pyrex crack-pipe for just $.25 a piece.  The federal government attempted to shut down InSite nearly six years ago, but a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada allowed the group to survive as an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  

Convicted Rapist Sentenced to Death in CA Murder: An Orange County judge has sentenced 43-year-old Jason Michael Balcom to death for his role in the cold-case rape and murder of a pregnant woman more than 25 years ago.  Jeremiah Dobruck of the LA Times reports that Balcom was serving a 50-year prison sentence in Michigan on a separate rape charge when investigators linked him to the California murder through a DNA match from a national database.  Balcom was convicted of first-degree murder with enhancements for murder during commission of sodomy, rape, robbery and burglary.

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