The Sentencing Project – Policy Brief – “Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime – A Tale of Three States” -

“Although the pace of criminal justice reform has accelerated at both the federal and state levels in the past decade, current initiatives have had only a modest effect on the size of the prison population. But over this period, three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – have achieved prison population reductions in the range of 25%. They have also seen their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average…”

NPR, By Putting Interrogations On Tape, FBI Opens Window Into Questioning, By Carrie Johnson (July 21, 2014) – “The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies will soon begin recording the interrogations they conduct. It’s a reversal of decades of policy and, the Obama administration says, a demonstration that agents act appropriately, without coercing suspects. Some big loopholes remain in the policy, though…”

DOLAN, MAURA. “Federal Judge Rules California Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2014. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-california-death-penalty-ruled-unconstitutional-20140716-story.html>.

A federal judge in Orange County ruled Wednesday that California’s death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, ruled on a petition by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die nearly two decades ago.

Carney said the state’s death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed. He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed. “For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote.

Carney’s ruling can be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the delays have created a “system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” Carney said.

In overturning Jones’ death sentence, Carney noted that the inmate faced “complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether” he will be executed. The “random few” who will be executed “will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary,” Carney said.

“No rational person,” Carney wrote, “can question that the execution of an individual carries with it the solemn obligation of the government to ensure that the punishment is not arbitrarily imposed and that it furthers the interests of society.”

Natasha Minsker, a director of the ACLU of Northern California, said Wednesday’s ruling marked the first time that a federal judge had found the state’s current system unconstitutional. She said it was also “the first time any judge has ruled systemic delay creates an arbitrary system that serves no legitimate purpose and is therefore unconstitutional.”

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 1995 sentenced Jones to death for the 1992 rape and killing of Julia Miller, his girlfriend’s mother. Jones killed Miller 10 months after being paroled for a previous rape.

A spokesman for Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said only that her office was reviewing the decision.”

Amy Howe, Get a warrant! Today’s cellphone privacy decision in Plain English, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 25, 2014, 5:25 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/get-a-warrant-todays-cellphone-privacy-decision-in-plain-english/

Riley v. California in Plain English.

“In 1973, the Supreme Court held that police officers did not need a warrant to look inside a pack of cigarettes that they found in the coat pocket of a man who had been arrested.  Those kinds of warrantless searches were allowed, the Court reasoned back then, to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence.

Forty years later, California and the federal government urged the Supreme Court to adopt the same rule for cellphones.  Once someone is arrested, they contended, police should be able to go through the entire contents of his phone without a warrant because cellphones are just like any other item that you can carry in your hand or pocket.  But today the Supreme Court emphatically rejected that argument.  Therefore, unless it’s an emergency, police need to get a warrant before they can search your cellphone…”

 

 

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