Thursday, November 12, 2009

Judges reject California plan to cut prison crowding


Three federal judges on Wednesday forcefully rejected a Schwarzenegger administration proposal to ease prison overcrowding, threatening to impose their own plan for reducing the inmate population if the state does not submit an acceptable one within three weeks.

The panel said California officials had failed to comply with their order to produce a plan to pare the number of state prisoners by 40,000 within two years. The judges agreed to postpone a decision on a request by inmates' lawyers to hold Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in contempt of court for defying the earlier order, issued Aug. 4, 2009

A Schwarzenegger spokeswoman, Rachel Arrezola, said the state would respond to the order by its Nov. 12 deadline. She said the administration is continuing to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the judges' "arbitrary" reduction order. That appeal was filed last month.

The push to reduce overcrowding stems from the judges' ruling in a pair of inmate lawsuits. The judges said the teeming conditions of the state prison system, which contains nearly 170,000 people, is the main cause of medical and mental health care so poor that it violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.


See: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-prisons22-2009oct22,0,1269315.story

Monday, November 9, 2009

In re Cerny - filed 11/4/09, First District, Div. 3 ( 2009 SOS 6355)

Finally another Federal case in the inmate's favor regarding the Parole Plan for release after being "branded" as a substance abuser. The crime and drug use was found to "remote" in time and could not be used against the inmate.
-----------------------------------------
SUMMARY:

Inmate’s inability to demonstrate a suitable plan for release may be the only factor that demonstrates his unsuitability for parole based on evidence of inmate’s extensive history of drug abuse and dependence. Parole board’s concern that inmate might revert to prior drug habits and thus become a danger to the public was justified. Circumstances of inmate’s commitment offense--a second-degree murder over a $60 drug deal gone bad 29 years ago while inmate was a chronic drug user--did not provide evidence that inmate’s release would unreasonably endanger the public, given close nexus between inmate’s history and drug abuse and the circumstances of his crime, the substantial amount of intervening time in which inmate has not committed any violent act or abused drugs, and defendant’s long-standing treatment for drug abuse. Inmate’s social and criminal history, which was inseparable from his history of addiction and drug abuse, were too far removed in time and behavioral attributes to constitute reliable evidence of inmate’s current dangerousness.

See: http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?1109%2FA122964

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Englund v. Sisto, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99629 - grant

Another win for the inmates in Federal Courts. The inmate had already served thirty years of a life sentence, nearly double the amount of time of either Biggs or Irons, when the Board denied him parole.

Thed Federal Court finds the Habeas relief is warranted and the Court GRANTS the Petition. IT IS HEREBY ORDERD that if Petitioner is incarcerated at this time, Respondent shall, within ten (10) days of this Order release Petitioner from custody.

==================================
Englund v. Sisto, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99629

Petitioner is the type of person the Ninth Circuit envisioned in Biggs and Iron whose liberty interest in parole could be at risk. Petitioner had already served thirty years of a life sentence, nearly double the amount of time of either Biggs or Irons, when the Board denied him parole. As in Biggs and Irons, the Board considered Petitioner a "model inmate." See Biggs, 334 F.3d at 912. In fact, the Board admitted on the record that the section 2402 post-conviction factors weighed in favor of paroling Petitioner. It is significant that in denying Petitioner parole for one year, the Board did not advise Petitioner of what he could do to improve his chances of being paroled at his next parole suitability hearing.

In this regard, Petitioner has done everything California law requires him to do to gain parole after thirty years. Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15, § 2402. [*24] According to the Board, the only thing that prevents Petitioner from being paroled is his commitment offense; if the immutable facts of Petitioner's commitment are dispositive, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the Board will again deny Petitioner parole the next time it considers his suitability for parole. This is precisely the scenario Ninth Circuit jurisprudence has sought to avoid. See Marshall, 512 F.3d at 545; see also Sass, 461 F.3d at 1129; see also Irons, 505 F.3d at 854; see also Biggs, 334 F.3d at 917.

Because Prisoner's behavior in custody for the past twenty years has been exemplary and substantially demonstrates rehabilitation, the Shasta County Superior Court's affirmation of the Board's decision thirty years after the commitment offense to deny Petitioner parole solely because of the nature of that offense was an unreasonable application of federal law.

CONCLUSION


"The Court finds that the Board of Prison Term's October 4, 2006, conclusion that Petitioner was unsuitable for parole violated Petitioner's right to due process and that the Shasta County Superior Court's Order affirming that denial constituted an unreasonable application [*25] of clearly established federal law. Accordingly, Habeas relief is warranted and the Court GRANTS the Petition. IT IS HEREBY ORDERD that if Petitioner is incarcerated at this time, Respondent shall, within ten (10) days of this Order release Petitioner from custody.

IT IS SO ORDERED."