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Archive for the ‘Cities’ Category

(ECONOMY) READ: Cash-Strapped States To Set Inmates Free…

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www.huffingtonpost.com_Inmates_s-INMATES-largeMandatory sentencing laws are relaxed, parole is accelerated, and time off for good behavior is increased as states scramble to save money.

Reporting from Denver – After decades of pursuing lock-’em-up policies, states are scrambling to reduce their prison populations in the face of tight budgets, making fundamental changes to their criminal justice systems as they try to save money.

Some states are revising mandatory-sentencing laws that locked up nonviolent offenders; others are recalculating the way prison time is counted.

California, with the nation’s second-largest prison system, is considering perhaps the most dramatic proposal — releasing 40,000 inmates to save money and comply with a court ruling that found the state’s prisons overcrowded.

Colorado will accelerate parole for nearly one-sixth of its prison population. Kentucky has already granted early release to more than 3,000 inmates. Oregon has temporarily nullified a voter initiative calling for stiffer sentences for some crimes, and has increased by 10% the time inmates get off their sentences for good behavior.

The flurry of activity has led to an unusual phenomenon — bureaucrats and politicians expressing relief at the tight times. “The budget has actually helped us,” said Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Corrections Department in Michigan, which increased its parole board by 50% this year to speed up releases.

“When you’re not having budget troubles, that’s when we implemented many of these lengthy drug sentences and zero-tolerance policies [that] really didn’t work,” he said.

Though prison budgets grew steadily over the last 20 years, a recent survey found that 26 states cut their corrections budgets this year. The reductions range from the small-scale — such as putting in energy-efficient lightbulbs — to sweeping changes like the early releases.

“States are saying, ‘We can’t build our way to public safety, especially when budgets are tight,’ ” said Adam Gelb, head of the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project. “For the most part, state leaders are not holding their noses and making these changes just to balance their budgets. They’re beginning to realize that research-based strategies can lead to less crime at far less cost than prison.”

Many states have expanded credit for good behavior. Others have made legal tweaks, such as raising the minimum amount of damage required for a property crime to be a felony. Some, like New York, have overhauled long-criticized mandatory sentencing laws that sent nonviolent, first-time drug offenders to state prison. READ MORE

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Written by dnnnewshound

September 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

(ECOLOGY) READ: Interactive Fire Map Of The LA Fires Sept. 4, 2009…

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Source: DNN/AQMD

(Note This map is not interactive, it is just a snapshot of the original which can be found here)

fire map

Written by dnnnewshound

September 4, 2009 at 1:57 pm

(READ): California Garage Sale: State Holds Giant Garage Sale To Raise Funds…

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Source: The Huffington Post/AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that the “Great California Garage Sale” will turn government clutter like surplus prison uniforms and office furniture into cash to bulk up the state’s depleted finances.

On offer as the state clears out clutter are nearly 600 state-owned vehicles and thousands of pieces of office furniture, computers, electronics, jewelry, pianos, even a surf board, a food saver and an Xbox 360 gaming system.

State officials estimate the giant two-day yard sale being held at a state warehouse will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to clearing out office products, the state is also selling unclaimed property from state parks and items confiscated by law enforcement, said California Department of General Services spokesman Eric Lamoureux.

The prison department contributed dental chairs and surplus prison shirts and jeans.

“This is a win-win for the state and for shoppers,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday announcing that a selection of items also would be sold on eBay and Craigslist. “Together we are eliminating waste and providing great deals in this tough economy.” Read More

Written by dnnnewshound

August 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

(READ): Broke, California Holds Huge Garage Sale…

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Source: Newser.com/Los Angeles Times

yardsale(Newser Summary) – Just how bad has California’s budget crisis gotten? So bad that it’s holding what it’s calling the “Great California Garage Sale” this weekend, hoping to unload piles of junk and wasteful property that the state’s accrued over the years. Hundreds of items will be available, from BlackBerrys to desks to cars and CHiPs motorcycles,  [Governor] Arnold Schwarzenegger has even signed some of the items to drum up interest.

A few things have already been listed on eBay and Craigslist, because California is hip like that. But what could be the most interesting untold story here, writes Andrew Malcom of the LA Times, is how California got some of this stuff in the first place. Among the weirder items: a surfboard, antique piano, and dentist chairs.

Kevin Spak

Written by dnnnewshound

August 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

(READ): Obama reaffirms commitment to gay rights…

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Source: SFgate

(06-30) 04:00 PDT Washington

Countering criticism that he’s done little on gay rights, President Obama commemorated the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern movement by welcoming its leaders to the White House on Monday and reaffirming his commitment to their top priorities.

“I want you to know: You have our support,” Obama told members of the core Democratic constituency as he and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a cocktail-and-appetizer reception in the East Room for Gay Pride Month. It’s been four decades since the police raid on New York City’s gay Stonewall Inn that spurred gay rights activism across the country.

Obama added that, as activists work to change minds and laws, “I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/30/MN2C18FS7H.DTL&type=gaylesbian#ixzz0OyYpHSDK

Written by dnnnewshound

August 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm

(READ): Stanford scientists scan 2,500-year-old mummy…

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Source:  Yahoo! (AP)

Alisa Eagleston, left, and Elizabeth Cornu, both conservators ...
AP

Thu Aug 20, 7:50 PM ET

Alisa Eagleston, left, and Elizabeth Cornu, both conservators with the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum cover an Egyptian mummy after it underwent a scan at the Stanford Medical Center in Stanford, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. Scientists in California are using computer scans to help unwrap the mysteries of a more than 2,500-year-old mummy. The mummy, believed to be an ancient Egyptian priest named Irethorrou, belongs to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The tests could help piece together what life was like in Egypt in an era just before the Persian conquest, when the last native Egyptian dynasty ruled.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Written by dnnnewshound

August 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Posted in California

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