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March 30, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Congress recognized 40 years ago that it was counterproductive and just plain wrong to incarcerate juveniles for trivial misbehavior such as truancy, breaking curfew, smoking or drinking. These acts, known as status offenses, are illegal only because the person committing them is a minor. Federal law passed at that time prohibited states from locking away most status offenders, but in 1980 the law was amended to allow incarceration when a court order had been violated. In other words, if a truant teenager was ordered by a court to attend school, and then cut class, incarceration was allowed.
March 28, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate voted Friday to suspend three Democratic lawmakers, all accused of criminal wrongdoing, from office with pay. The vote comes two days after Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was charged by federal authorities with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and accepting campaign funds in exchange for political favors. Also suspended were Sens. Roderick Wright of Inglewood and Ronald Calderon of Montebello, who had both previously taken voluntary leaves of absence to fight separate criminal cases.
March 26, 2014 | By Scott Gold, Joe Mozingo and Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - State Sen. Leland Yee, a prominent figure in California's Democratic legislative majority, was arrested in a federal corruption investigation Wednesday along with an ostentatious gangster known as "Shrimp Boy" - who insisted that he had gone straight - and two dozen of their alleged associates. An affidavit filed in federal court in San Francisco by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua said there was probable cause to believe that Yee had conducted wire fraud and had engaged in a conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and illegally import firearms.
March 25, 2014 | By Matt Stevens
Spencer Davis was chatting up tourists on the Venice boardwalk when police officers pulled up in front of his display of plastic alien heads. Had Davis seen a man threatening people with a chain saw, they asked? "Not today," he quipped with a smile, assuming that the officers were joking. Then he turned around and saw police officers, their guns drawn, with a man holding a chain saw. "Just when you think you've seen it all…" Davis said. For all the gentrification, designer homes and tourist attractions, Venice is still that kind of place - where artists, the homeless, Silicon Beach hipsters, surfers, inline skaters and tourists come together along a circus-like boardwalk.
March 22, 2014 | By Chris O'Brien
To keep an eye on his child via his smartphone, Marc Gilbert installed Internet-connected video baby monitors in his home in Houston. One evening, Gilbert heard a stranger's voice bellowing obscenities from the monitor. He disconnected the device after realizing that it had been hacked. "I'm a pretty technical guy, and I thought I knew how all this stuff should be hooked up," said Gilbert, who has written several letters to his congressman and other elected officials, trying to bring the security issue to their attention.
March 20, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
"Blood Ties" is a largely engrossing drama set in 1974 that works better as an emotional study of brothers on flip sides of the law than as the Sidney Lumet-type crime saga it strives to be. Still, there's a heft to the proceedings that keeps us invested even when the story's various strands start to unravel. Billy Crudup is superb as Frank, an upright New York cop whose older brother, Chris (Clive Owen), is released from prison after serving a lengthy stint for murder. It's a testy reunion for the mismatched pair as old wounds quickly resurface and Chris' foray into honest work proves short-lived . The upshot: Chris' return to his violent, criminal ways eventually forces Frank to choose between honoring his badge or his family.
March 20, 2014 | By Richard Marosi
California has emerged as the major gateway for methamphetamine into the country, with Mexican organized crime groups smuggling an estimated 70% of the U.S. supply through state border crossings, according to a report released Thursday by state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris. The 98-page report on trends in transnational organized crime also cites maritime smuggling, money laundering and criminal alliances between Mexican drug cartels and Southern California gangs as growing public safety threats.
March 13, 2014 | By Robyn Dixon
PRETORIA, South Africa - The pistol, cocked and ready to fire, lay on a mat on the bloodied bathroom floor in the home of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, just where he left it after shooting his girlfriend to death, according to police. In an eerie virtual tour of the Pistorius house Thursday, seen via crime scene photos taken just after her body was removed, Pretoria's high court followed the trail of blood leading up the marble staircase and inexorably into the bathroom where Reeva Steenkamp was killed.
March 12, 2014 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. is to endorse a proposal to reduce future drug sentences by an average of 11 months during a hearing by the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Thursday. Overly-tough drug sentences result in “too many Americans going to prison for far too long, and at times for no truly good public safety reason,” Holder said in prepared remarks released by the Justice Department. There are more than 216,000 inmates in federal prisons alone, Holder said, nearly half of them serving time for drug-related crimes.
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