13 AZ Employees Charged In Prison Sex Cases, No Jail Terms

Thirteen people who supervised state prisoners have been charged during the past four-and-a-half years with felonies for having sex or sexual contact with an inmate or parolee. Prosecutors in every case agreed to plea deals that reduced those charges, allowing probation and no prison time for the defendants, reports the Arizona Republic. Most of the defendants were state correctional officers. Records show that all the employees were charged in Maricopa or Pinal counties, where prosecutorial agencies have tough-on-crime reputations. Prosecutors in all 13 cases dropped one or more of the serious felony charges, which in nearly all cases could have resulted in more than two years of prison per charge, in exchange for a guilty plea to either a misdemeanor or the lowest-level felony.

OK Coalition Pushes For Two Ballot Initiatives To Cut Prison Population

A politically diverse group of Oklahoma state officials, policy advocates, and members of the business community came together this week to announce they were joining forces to stop a problem the state can no longer ignore: Oklahoma’s high incarceration rate, The Oklahoman reports. “We’re running a factory to create future felons,” said Bancfirst Corp. Chairman Gene Rainbolt. “It’s ridiculous.” He among a dozen other prominent Oklahomans who formed a coalition, known as Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, and they plan to take the issue straight to the voters through two ballot initiatives. “We need to correct corrections, and if we’re going to call it the Department of Corrections we need to do some correcting.

Killer Of OK Bank President Had Been Wrongly Released From Prison Twice

The man who died in a police shootout after robbing the Bank of Eufaula, Ok., and killing its president Jan. 21 had been released from Texas prisons twice despite having a 60-year prison term to serve in Oklahoma, the Tulsa World reports. Officials from Creek and Tulsa counties, as well as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, maintain that they correctly followed procedure to get Cedric Lamont Norris into their custody to serve sentences for multiple robbery, burglary and property theft convictions he received in at least five counties among two states. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said Norris, 39, had been released on parole on Jan. 25, 2007, and March 22, 2012.

States At Criminal Justice Crossroads: Which Penalties To Cut Or Toughen?

After decades of “tough on crime” policies, many states are taking a hard look at the way people are charged, how much time they serve, and what happens when they are released, reports Stateline. Many states are looking at growing prison populations, obstacles to drug treatment, and high recidivism rates as reasons to re-evaluate their criminal justice systems. Many states are at a crossroads, weighing whether to build new prisons or change how they sentence people and guide them through parole and probation. Several states, including Alaska, Maryland, and Rhode Island, are considering sweeping criminal justice changes that would ease some of the punitive policies of the 1980s and '90s, especially for drug offenders. “If there's a theme or common denominator, it is policymakers asking what the science says will work,” said Michael Thompson of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. “The question they're asking is, 'Can we get a better return on our investment?' ” States that want to decrease the number of people going to prison often turn to reducing sentences, either by scrapping mandatory minimums or reclassifying some felonies as misdemeanors.

$3 Billion In Savings From CA Prison Reductions Fail To Materialize

Federal judicial orders are mostly to blame for a $3 billion drop in the budget savings that California prison officials promised four years ago, corrections officials tell the Associated Press. They had projected billions of dollars in reduced prison spending starting in 2012 through a long-term plan to trim the inmate population dramatically in response to federal court orders and recession-driven budget pressures. Instead, there is a $3 billion annual difference between the promised savings and the $10.5 billion corrections department budget Gov. Jerry Brown proposed earlier this month, in part because the state chose to boost the number of prison beds available. Federal judges required the state to reduce the headcount in the state’s 34 main adult prisons more than officials wished, says the revised long-term plan Brown’s administration released this week at the insistence of state lawmakers. That led to more expensive private prison beds in California and other states and ended plans to close a dilapidated state lockup as the state scrambled to maintain enough beds.

State Prisons Turn To Telemedicine To Save Money, Provide More Inmate Care

Texas prison psychiatrist Pradan Nathan sees up to 16 patients a day from a suburban Houston office, using an audio console, a camera and a monitor to treat inmates at two state prisons 30 miles away. Most states have turned to telemedicine to some extent for treating prisoners, often in remote areas where many prisons are located, because it allows doctors to examine them from a safe distance, Stateline reports. It enables corrections officers keep potentially dangerous inmates behind bars for treatment rather than bearing the cost and security risk of transporting them to hospitals. Because more doctors are willing to participate, it makes health care more available for inmates. Though some prisons used telemedicine as early as the 1980s, its use has dramatically increased with the arrival of improved technology, electronic medical records, and pressure to control rising medical costs.

Ex-WA Corrections Chief Says He Was Unaware Of 3,200 Erroneous Releases

Former Washington state Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner tells the Seattle Times he learned only in recent weeks of his department's calculation errors that allowed the early release of up to 3,200 prisoners. Warner’s successor told state lawmakers that one of Warner's assistant secretaries knew of the issue in 2012. The discovery of the problem — incorrectly programmed software that cut time from some inmates' sentences — “was passed up at least as high as an assistant secretary,” Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Dan Pacholke told the House General Government & Information Technology Committee. Warner said, “I was shocked to learn that the Department was releasing inmates inaccurately for the past thirteen years and when it was found out in my administration, it was not addressed. “I fully support and hope the investigation gets to the bottom of what went wrong so that such a public safety breach will never happen again.”

MA Incarceration Rate Down, More Study Due Of High Recidivism Numbers

The rate of incarceration in Massachusetts is down, but by how much varies widely depending on which county you're looking at, says WBUR Radio. That was an initial finding of an independent review of the state's criminal justice system commissioned by Gov. Charlie Baker. The review was conducted by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, which presented its first report to the state's criminal justice working group on Tuesday. There was a 12 percent drop in the state’s incarcerated population between 2006 and 2015, but there is a wide variation among county jail populations. In Berkshire County, there was a 52 percent decline in jail population from 2009 and 2015, while in Middlesex County there was a 35 percent increase.