Unintended Consequences of Criminal Offenders Being Transferred from State Prison to County Jail

The growing population of over 150,000 inmates in state prisons in California has exceeded the level the U.S. Supreme Court opined in 2011 is permissible. There has been litigation in Federal Court to obtain a more speedy reduction of the state prison population, and a new law has been enacted as a result of the Governor and Legislature in California establishing the state’s prison realignment; this is the name given to transferring inmates to county jails to reduce the state prison population to about 110,000. A Federal three-judge court previously set June, 2013 as the deadline for California to reduce by over 37% its state prison population beyond each prison’s building capacity. The date was recently extended to February, 2016.  This narrative has been based upon the perceived challenge of the State of California to provide adequate health care to inmates.

The Federal Court allowed this additional period of time subject to transferring state prisoners to private correctional centers and county jails in California, but not any longer to out of state facilities. This was also based upon, among other reasons, the representation of Governor Brown that shorter sentences would be imposed on non-violent criminals; issuing additional good behavior credits to prisoners so they could be eligible for an earlier release; speeding up and expanding early parole for those over 65 years of age with at least 25 years in prison; along with those who are medically incapacitated, as well as expanding the rehabilitation programs provided to inmates.

The problem is not simply the transfer of inmates to County Jails, but now the local detention facilities statewide are overcrowded. Moreover, it has been alleged there is an even greater conundrum in that far more sophisticated criminals are now incarcerated in County Jails.  For example, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department that oversees the jails in this County has reported there has been an increased number of drugs being smuggled into the jails; this drug trade that previously was typical of state prisons has now become a serious problem in county jails.  It has been reported there were 221 of these drug and alcohol cases in the San Diego County Jails in 2012, which constitutes over a 50% increase from that in 2011. There was a total of 279 of such cases in 2013, and about 335 of these particular cases between January and September, 2014.

To better address one of  these problems, San Diego has installed body scanners at a cost of $150, 000 each unit and $10,000 each year to provide service and maintenance. This month, the County Board of Supervisors also approved spending more than three-quarters of a million dollars to obtain four additional scanners and for a five year maintenance agreement. Besides visitors hiding contraband, some of those picked up for minor probation and parole violations have been smuggling drugs into the jails, as they may only be incarcerated for up to 10 days.

But what is the best solution? Clearly, we need to implement greater rehabilitation and educational programs. For the most part, we are spending the money to incarcerate people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, have a mental illness and/or do not have sufficient education and labor skills, when rehabilitation will have a far greater impact on this growing societal problem. Many advocates believe it can help to let local and state legislators know our political views, and of course, to become more involved in community programs.

 

 

Should law Enforcement Be Permitted to Stop and Search on the Basis of an Anonymous Tip of Reckless Driving?

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of PRADO NAVARETTE et al. v. CALIFORNIA, 12-9490 (April 22, 2014), the Court held the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not violated and, therefore, the traffic stop by a CHP law enforcement in which the officer searched the bed of a pickup truck and found about thirty pounds of marijuana was lawful since he had a reasonable suspicion of criminality, smelling marijuana and having a belief the driver was intoxicated.as a result of an anonymous tip given by a 911 caller.

The Dissenting opinion in this case captured the essence of the issue by writing a compelling summary stating all of us are at risk of losing our freedom of movement by an anonymous telephone tip such as this one regarding a reckless driver, whether true or false. Further, other opponents of these types of searches argue law enforcement should not be able to stop and search the public on an en masse basis. Criminal and constitutional lawyers maintain this Supreme Court opinion constitutes a further loss of our freedom to be secure from government intrusion.

State workers charged with accepting bribes

Two state workers were arrested for accepting bribes from a state toner contractor, according to officials.

Michael Mathison, owner of the Veterans Toners Services, has been accused of inflating quotes for office supplies, and then providing even more inflated fake quotes from competitors. That way, his company got the business from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Transportation.

Two other people were charged as well.

Stories like these are a reminder to deal honestly with money. It is a sad reality when anyone will sacrifice their employment to be involved in unscrupulous and/or improper conduct. The author failed to include in the article, however, information relating to mitigation and extenuation, if any. Everyone deserves to know about and read a balanced account rather than one that simply presents a (biased) narrative regardless of the other side of a story.

 

Gun owner charged in accidental shooting death

55-year-old Todd Conrad Francis is being charged with three felony counts: involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and criminal storage of a firearm.

Francis’ 9-year-old daughter was playing with her neighbor Eric Klyaz in the garage on June 4. They were handling Francis’ 9 mm pistol when it apparently went off, killing Klyaz. At the time, the children were being babysat by the girl’s 14-year-old brother.

Francis surrendered at the police headquarters on Tuesday and was released after posting $100,000 bail. He will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. on June 25 in San Diego Superior Court.

This is a tragic situation, and our hearts go out to the family of all of those involved.

 

San Diego seal beach closed at night after women are caught on camera hitting and kicking animals

A beach in San Diego that allowed visitors to observe seals in their natural habitat will close its gates at night after footage revealed two women caught abusing the animals. Although the footage was captured late in January, the video only emerged this week.

“The behavior was shocking, reprehensible and certainly not a reflection of how most citizens in our fine city believe animals should be treated,” said Mayor Bob Filner.

Patrolling by police on the beach has increased and authorities are still searching for the two women.

Police arrest four drug suspects following high-speed chase

 

A high-speed chase in San Diego ended with the arrest of four individuals who are now facing drug charges.

 

According to the report, authorities had information that led them to believe the vehicle was involved in narcotics trafficking or use.

However, the driver refused to pull over when asked and instead led police on a pursuit during rush hour. With the help of a police helicopter, the suspects were captured shortly after leading an officer down an embankment.

An investigation led to the discovery of meth, drug paraphernalia, and a firearm inside the abandoned vehicle. In addition to narcotics charges, the suspects also face felony evading and failure to yield.

SUSPECT IN SLAYING ARRESTED AFTER HUNT (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Criminal Law Attorney SAM SPITAL:“On January 30, 2013, the UT San Diego electronic edition published an article about a Riverside County 22 year old murder suspect who was arrested the previous day by the San Diego Police. He was identified as Matthew Rowley and reportedly in San Diego. After several hours, the alleged shooter was located with the use of a police helicopter and specially trained dogs who aided in the search; he was then taken into custody for the shooting death of 20 year old Corona resident, Daniel Stordahl.

The staff writer did not include any further information regarding the homicide victim, his family and any possible connection with the murder suspect. In addition, there was nothing further reported regarding the shooter to help determine any possible motive for the killing or surrounding facts and circumstances. It is unfortunate that very little is provided for the reader to have a balanced report rather than a story that simply identifies an event as if nothing more is important.

The role of the defense lawyer at the outset will undoubtedly be to investigate all of the facts in order to develop a plan of action and strategy to represent a client who is charged with murder. One or more private investigators will be employed as well as forensic experts. A Deputy Public Defender at County expense is assigned to a case when an individual does not have or cannot afford a private attorney.”

–Sam Spital

Military Sex Crimes Increasing Despite Training – Officials struggle to explain why the problem has grown (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sex Crime Defense and San Diego Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:

“On January 21, 2013, in the digital edition of the NBC Channel 39 news, an article was published regarding the growing sexual crimes, including sodomy, adultery, pornography and related offenses such as sexual harassment. It was revealed that about 30% of commanders in the military were ousted because of sex crimes and misconduct during the past eight years.

Some top officials believe a policy of zero tolerance equally and more consistently enforced across all ranks within the military service, whether generals or admirals may curb this increased problem. Others believe the ethics training that is given in the military needs to be implemented earlier in everyone’s career.

Whether it is declining ethical values &/or alcohol and drug related issues, these problems are pervasive in the military as we have also seen in various other positions in government, all the way up the ladder to those who have been respected as leaders in the House, the Senate and even former Presidents. Perhaps the situation is no different than what exists in society today, however, we expect those in governing positions to be models for the rest of us who should be able to emulate great qualities and not substantial lapses in judgment. There may be a silver lining in that more misdeeds are being reported and the public is not ignoring such offenses &/or these transgressions, but demanding justice.

The role of the defense lawyer not only serves to refute any or all of the elements of a crime, but most often to establish the redeeming qualities of the offender, if any, as well as remorse and rehabilitation.”

–Sam Spital

Man Kidnapped During Bogus Craigslist Dealing (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:

“A suspect is facing kidnapping and attempted robbery charges in a plot that began with an advertisement on Craigslist by a seller who intended to find a buyer for his camera lens &/or photography equipment. The NBC Channel 39 online news reported on January 16, 2013 the male adult suspect who has not yet been caught was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and may have been 25 years old. The article revealed the victim met the suspect at a hotel in Pacific Beach; he had a gun and then forced the victim to drive to his bank in La Jolla to have him withdraw his money. The suspect did not like that the bank was taking too much time to get the money so he demanded the victim drive away without obtaining any money.

There have been similar robbery crimes as well as at least one murder incident related to ads placed on Craigslist and, therefore, the unsuspecting public needs to be more cognizant of the risks of meeting someone they do not know and/or to allow a would-be buyer to come to their residence. These offenses have escalated and represent a further sign of the economic crisis the country has been facing far too long; some pundits have opined the current economic decline is due to a lack of appropriate and timely leadership to obtain solutions via bipartisan consensus.”

–Sam Spital

Sketches released in kidnapping attempt (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Criminal Defense Attorney Sam Spital:

“The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department produced sketches of three suspects in an attempted kidnapping about 1:30 p.m. of an eighteen year old woman according to the UT News on January 1, 2013. It was revealed in the article that the teenager was pulled into the cab of the pick up truck by one man when she refused his orders to get inside. The article noted the bed of the truck was loaded with gardening equipment, and two of the male suspects were described as Latino while the third was either white or Latino.

The story did not include any more information relating to the 18 year old girl nor the location to where she was walking, except I believe the incident took place in an area of Encinitas (a city adjacent to San Diego) where the homes range from $750,000 to well above $1 million. Kudos go to the young girl who fought off the three suspects, biting one of them in his ear and punching the other two and then was able to get out of the truck and run for help. One can only speculate as to what might have happened to the teenager had she not resisted the suspects. This is certainly an example of how promptly using self-defense measures can protect one and prevent much greater harm from taking place.”

–Sam Spital