This post, News Scan, by Michael Rushford, first appeared on at http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/.
CA Effort to Curb Prison Violence Halted: An effort initiated over a year ago by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to reduce gang violence in state prisons by encouraging gangs to co-exist has been discontinued. Don Thompson of the Associated Press reports that when prison officials allowed members of different gangs to share exercise yards, fights broke out almost immediately. At the state prison in Fresno, officials tried 45 times to put members of different gangs in the same yard resulting with violence erupting 27 times and 3 full scale riots occurring. A spokesperson for CDCR told reporters “I don’t know why they fight. We just expect our people to engage in positive behavior, engage in positive programs.” This level of naivety by those actually supervising criminals in prison is remarkable.
Courts Divided on Prosecuting Violent Juveniles as Adults: The validity of SB 1391, A California law which bars the prosecution of violent juveniles in adult court, will likely be determined by the state supreme court. Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that a decision Monday by the state’s Second District Court of Appeal, held that the statute was in conflict with Proposition 57, a ballot measure adopted by voters in 2016. The initiative provides that the legislature could only amend it if the changes furthered its intent. Earlier this year the state’s First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld AB 1391, ruling that it did further the intent of Proposition 57. The decision by the Second District held differently, finding that the initiative permitted prosecutors to try violent juveniles in adult court while the legislation precludes this. Part of the problem is how the initiative is interpreted. The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 was promoted by Governor Jerry Brown as a law that would keep violent criminals in prison while allowing release to rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders. District Attorneys opposed the Act because it allowed criminals with violent priors like rape and murder to gain release if their most recent crime was a property or drug offense. Under Proposition 57 a prosecutor could petition a juvenile court judge to authorize a violent juvenile offender to be tried in adult court. AB 1391 prohibits this allowing juveniles, including those who convicted of multiple murders, to be released from prison at age 25.