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California Governor Approved Parole for 377 Life-Sentenced Murderers in 2012

By John E. Dannenberg

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown approved four out of every five parole grant decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) for prisoners convicted of murder, sentenced to life with parole. Totaling parole grants for 377 lifers, Brown’s record dwarfs the scanty parole approvals of his predecessors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis.

California’s parole process for life-sentenced murderers has been stymied for decades by governors who fear the political repercussions of paroling lifers, based on what happened to former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Dukakis had permitted a violent prisoner serving a life sentence, Willie Horton, to have a weekend furlough; while on furlough Horton committed additional violent crimes, including armed robbery, assault and rape.

When Governor Dukakis later ran for President in 1988, his rivals produced a TV ad depicting a revolving door that showed him giving furloughs to violent felons. The infamous ad labeled Dukakis a “soft on crime” liberal who allowed dangerous criminals to commit more crimes. He subsequently lost the presidential election to George H.W. Bush.

Since then, few politicians have ventured to use their discretion to release prisoners serving life sentences for murder. In California, the first governor to be granted the statutory power to make such decisions was Gray Davis. His statement at the time was that if you killed someone, forget it – you’re not getting out (notwithstanding that state law requires release on parole to “normally” be granted). In his years as governor, Davis arbitrarily overruled every favorable Board parole decision for life-sentenced murderers, save five – equating to a lifer parole rate of a fraction of one percent.

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Colorado Restorative Justice

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Dianne Frazee-Walker is the founder of Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) for the 11th Judicial District of Colorado, Chaffee County. (FCRJ) was formed in 2006 as a non-profit 501(c) 3 entity whose purpose was to provide an alternative route for young adult and juvenile first-time offenders entering the revolving court system.

The mission of (FCRJ) is “To enhance the safety of our community by addressing offender accountability and to empower victims through a supportive conflict resolution process.”  

For the full story of (FCRJ)  http://www.prisoneducation.com/prison-education/

There are many advantages to using restorative justice as a form of mediation to resolve crime-related conflict. 

Offenders have an opportunity to face their victims and participate in creating a contract for repairing the harm. Victims, who are willing to participate in the process, are empowered by having a voice about how they were affected by the crime and what can be done to restore the damage.

The dialogue that takes place in a restorative circle has the potential of healing both parties. Offenders who participate in the restorative conversation are less likely to reoffend because hearing how their behavior impacted their victims and giving identity to their victims provides offenders with a sense of empathy, accountability, and responsibility that they do not have access to when there is no contact with their victims.

When restorative justice is used to rehabilitate offenders the recidivism rate is less than 10%.

Pete Lee, Colorado State Representative was reelected to represent House District 18 in 2010. Soon after being reelected, Mr. Lee drafted HB-11-1032, which gives victims of some crimes the right to meet face-to-face with the offender under highly-regulated circumstances, and allows for sentences that focus on compensating and repairing harm to victims. The bill passed unanimously.

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Inmates Use Jail Time For Education

By SAPA

Johannesburg – More than 11 600 prison inmates are participating in adult education and training (AET) programmes, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Wednesday.

“Prisons are now correctional centres of rehabilitation,” Ndebele said in a statement.  Image courtesy www.statssa.gov.za

“Offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance towards becoming ideal citizens.”

He said his department was going all-out to make sure that inmates could become productive citizens on their release.

In April, Ndebele announced the compulsory registration for all inmates without a qualification equivalent to Grade Nine to complete the AET’s levels one to four.

“In September, 302 offenders, who completed various education and skills development programmes, graduated at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre,” the minister said.

“This included 49 inmates who participated in the artisan development skills programme and qualified as artisans.”

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