FRAMED: A Mystery In Six Parts. The LA Times' Christopher Goffard brings you a truly bizarre bit of true crime, involving planted drugs, PTA moms, sexy firemen, self-published novels, cold-blooded revenge, and a whole lot more. [more inside]
Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
Scrapper, directed and produced by Stephan Wassmann, is a film about a group of survivalists, desperadoes, and range runners who risk their lives scavenging scrap metal from exploded and unexploded ordnance from the impact areas of the U.S. Navy and Marines Aerial Gunnery Range in the Chocolate Mountains of southeastern California.
A federal judge declared California's death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, saying delays of 25 years or more in deciding appeals and carrying out occasional executions have created an arbitrary and irrational system that serves no legitimate purpose. Executions in California have already been on hold since 2006, due to problems with the procedures associated with lethal injection. If the ruling is upheld, California will join 18 other states (plus D.C.) that have abolished capital punishment. (Read the court's opinion here.)
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
"Each of us remains a staunch Republican conservative, but our perspectives on the death penalty have changed.... Each of us, independently, has concluded that the death penalty isn't working for California." The authors of California's Death Penalty Act of 1978, which expanded use of the death penalty in the state, have publicly endorsed the SAFE Initiative to abolish capital punishment in California. (Previously)
"The thing I regret most that I cannot change -- except by what I do now -- was drafting the death penalty initiative."
"The way I look at it, what I created can and may already have resulted in the [execution] of an innocent person." Donald Heller is partly responsible for turning California's death row into the most populous and expensive in the nation. So why'd the lawyer known as "Mad Dog" change his mind?
When the sun goes down, it's time to hit the streets. Dusty is a cat burglar.
1) “But there are other lives to be saved, of people who haven’t done horrible things, who haven’t actually hurt anyone.” 2) "Fix it or lose it."
Arguing Three Strikes. A defense lawyer (and co-founder of Stanford's unique Criminal Defense Clinic), and a tough-on-crime Republican D.A. make for unusual allies in the move to reform California's Three Strikes law. [more inside]
Inside America's most dangerous national forest.
The public shaming of Orange County billionaire Henry Nicholas continues apace. While his financial crimes may not have drawn more than a passing reference, his drug use and other, more unsavory acts, have gotten widespread coverage -- as early as last year. Perhaps, it's because Nicholas was famously involved in supporting tough sentencing laws (his sister was murdered by her boyfriend in 1983.) However, some of the "tough on crime" policies he has backed as recently as a few months ago are said to unfairly worsen the punishment for those who commit crimes much less serious than those for which he was just indicted.
Fiscal Pressures Lead Some States to Free Inmates Early, says the Washington Post. Across the United States, a financial crisis is brewing in our nation's correctional systems. California, which has the largest prison system in the nation, (housing 170,000 inmates with a capacity of only 100,000), plans to increase the budget for new prison construction by 7 to 14 billion dollars, on top of releasing 22,000 nonviolent prisoners on unsupervised parole. Other states, especially Michigan, face an even more dire situation... [more inside]
The crimes they are a'changing. This comes from the daily police log of The Union newspaper Grass Valley/Nevada City, CA. Surveillance cameras (and apparently not very effective ones) were stolen while mystery powders kept the cops hopping.
San Francisco couple has been charged with murder and manslaughter from the January 26 fatal mauling of a neighbor by two dogs they were caring for.