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February 13, 2014 | By Martin Tsai
This year's Academy Award documentary short subject nominees prove more substantial than their animation and live-action counterparts. Of the three Oscar shorts categories, the docs - a supersized collection of works broken down here into two separate programs - are the most cohesive bunch, with themes of mortality and reconciliation. Two shorts from Program A feature subjects already well documented elsewhere. "The Lady in Number 6" profiles Alice Herz Sommer, the now-110-year-old pianist who recited Chopin's études from memory while inside the Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.
February 12, 2014 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown has dodged an artillery barrage fired by a battalion of liberals: federal judges and prisoners' lawyers. It's a big victory for the centrist. But it's a win-win for a lot of people: the unrelenting judges and lawyers, the packed-like-sardines inmates, the taxpaying public and state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Because the judges Monday gave him a two-year extension on his deadline to end prison overcrowding, Brown won't be forced to release hordes of convicts - among them some potential Willie Hortons - as he runs for reelection this year.
February 10, 2014 | By Anh Do and Adolfo Flores
A Santa Ana detective testified Monday that she posed as an inmate, going undercover into the jail cell of a defendant in a high-profile beating case after the woman refused to talk with police and demanded an attorney. Det. Patricia Navarro said she never identified herself to Vanesa Tapia Zavala when she secretly recorded their conversation in a jail cell, trying to get her to share details about the fight outside a downtown Santa Ana nightclub that left a recent college graduate comatose, and then dead days later.
February 7, 2014 | By Richard Winton
Federal authorities on Friday indicted two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies who allegedly beat a chained jail inmate, then falsely accused him of attacking them. Deputies Joey Aguiar and Mariano Ramirez were indicted on charges in connection with the beating of an inmate in February 2009. According to the indictment, Aguiar and Ramirez punched and kicked the victim before using pepper spray on him. The deputies also struck him with a flashlight, prosecutors charged. DOCUMENT: Read the indictment The deputies then wrote false reports claiming that the inmate had "viciously kicked his legs at deputies.
February 7, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- The San Quentin News, the inmate-run newspaper at one of California's most notorious lockups, is being honored by a journalism association at the same time its operations have been suspended by prison officials. The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is recognizing the newspaper, one of the few of its kind in the country, with a freedom of information award for "accomplishing extraordinary journalism under extraordinary circumstances" and lifting "the curtain of secrecy that shrouds those who live behind the walls.
February 7, 2014 | By Jack Leonard, Robert Faturechi and Richard Winton
Federal prosecutors announced charges Friday against two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies accused of assaulting a handcuffed inmate in a case that broadens the FBI's ongoing inquiry and raises new questions about how the Sheriff's Department has investigated deputy misconduct in the nation's largest jail system. Sheriff's officials previously rejected allegations that the deputies used excessive force despite a jail chaplain coming forward to say that he witnessed the 2009 incident and believed the deputies beat a helpless inmate.
February 7, 2014 | By Jack Leonard, Richard Winton and Robert Faturechi
Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies conspired to assault a handcuffed jail inmate and struck him with a flashlight before writing reports that falsely claimed he attacked them, according to a federal indictment made public on Friday. The alleged attack was witnessed by a jail chaplain who wrote a sworn declaration saying he witnessed deputies beat an inmate in Men's Central Jail.  The indictment does not mention the chaplain but accuses Deputies Joey Aguiar, 26, and Mariano Ramirez, 38, of beating an inmate on the same date in February 2009.
January 23, 2014 | By Robert Faturechi
The hundreds of cameras installed inside Los Angeles County jails in response to an inmate abuse scandal have been powerful tools in vetting allegations against jailers, according to a watchdog report released Thursday. For years, critics of the Sheriff's Department's jails pushed the agency to install cameras in the lockups since independent witnesses are rarely present when deputies use force. In 2011, after an onslaught of inmate abuse allegations, the department began installing hundreds of cameras.
January 23, 2014 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown has again asked federal judges for more time to reduce crowding in California's prisons and, in an about-face, proposed to free inmates early if he misses an extended deadline. California is under orders to remove thousands of inmates from state lockups by April 18, a deadline already delayed more than a year. In papers filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Brown asked for an additional two years. That is "the minimum length of time needed to allow new reform measures to responsibly draw down the prison population while avoiding the early release of inmates," the documents say. Brown has declared repeatedly that releasing prisoners early would jeopardize public safety.
January 17, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
The children of convicted murderer Dennis McGuire, whose execution by lethal injection took longer and seemed to be more painful than expected, plans to sue Ohio to block further use of the protocol. The decision to sue was announced Friday at a news conference, said attorney Jon Paul Rion, who represents the children who witnessed Thursday's execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. The suit is expected to be filed next week in federal court, Rion said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
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