Month: September 2011

Don't call it a prison release – or a panacea

California’s prison realignment is a confusing process, but state officials want to make one thing clear. While the prison population is being reduced starting next week, California isn’t actually releasing any prisoners early. Instead, they are shifting responsibility for “low level offenders” to the counties, which have historically had responsibility for this type of inmate. But that doesn’t mean that prison realignment has solved California’s criminal justice problems. “In the old days,” one expert says, “we used to call this ‘put the money on the stump and run.’”

Homeless for Years, Older Women in Los Angeles Find a Good Home

On Skid Row, the downtown hub of the homeless population in Los Angeles, transients ask passersby for change, slump against concrete buildings, and mumble obscenities at bus stops. The Downtown Women’s Center’s beautiful new building, sitting in the middle of the mayhem, is a standout. The DWC’s Day Center serves hundreds of homeless women in its facilities every day and 71 lucky ones live in permanent residences, or efficiency apartments.

Uninsured in the Central Valley eager for health care reform

The Bridge to Reform is a $10 billion program that will transition low-income residents in California to a Medicare-like health coverage before the 2014 federal health care coverage mandate kicks in. That funding could bring much-needed changes, like providing patients with a medical home where they can get preventative care and where their medical histories are kept on file. But cash-strapped counties are worried – will the costs of extending coverage overrun their available funds, even with help from federal dollars?

Brown: Prisons give state 'healthiest damn criminals in the world'

Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday that California’s prison system, under pressure from the courts, has focused on turning inmates into “the healthiest damn criminals in the world” but has done little to make them less likely to commit another crime after they leave custody.

County sheriffs, probation officers and others at the local level could do a much better job if given the funding and the authority to supervise low-level offenders and try to rehabilitate them, Brown said.

The Democratic governor, speaking to a gathering of 500 local law enforcement officials, heralded the Oct. 1 beginning of a new program to shift responsibility for 34,000 inmates from the state to the counties.

After realignment, fewer women expected in prison

Half of women in California prisons are there for non-violent crimes – the kind of offenses that will be managed on the county level after prison realignment starts Oct. 1. Women’s needs are different from men’s and so are the reasons behind their brushes with the law. San Francisco County is already developing help tailored to women who commit crimes. Should other counties follow their lead?

Elder Abuse bill would regulate signature stamps

By Meda Freeman Liz Sanders’ elderly mother had a $20 signature stamp that she used for her banking, but that little stamp ended up costing more than $700,000 after a dishonest caregiver got her hands on it. Sanders said the stamp turned out to be the perfect tool for forging checks, gaining access to dormant credit lines and transferring large sums into a bank account

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