Making Communities Safer By Abolishing The Death Penalty: Live Internet Video

Former Executioners Tour Central Valley – Available for Comment

Watch Live: http://abolition2012.ncadp.org/
Join the Conversation on Twitter: #abolition2012

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As Californians prepare to vote on a measure to repeal the death penalty, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will present a live online conference exploring how communities will be safer without the death penalty starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, October 25, 2012. The event will be moderated by Professor Charles Ogletree, founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University.

"This is a conversation that all Californians need to be a part of," said Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Especially with the election coming up, we want to help people look at the resources that go into maintaining capital punishment and explore how those resources can be better spent to make our communities safer."

Joining the conversation will be Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated from death row using DNA technology, Ron McAndrew, former warden of Florida State Prison who conducted that state’s final electrocutions, and Jerry Givens, former corrections officer from Virginia who put 62 men to death during his 17 years as an executioner.

The interactive conference may be seen on the website http://abolition2012.ncadp.org/ and viewers are invited to submit questions to the panelists using the hashtag #abolition2012.

Former Executioners Tour Central Valley – Available for Comment

Givens and McAndrew are participating in the on-line conference as they traverse the Central Valley on a speaking tour in support of Proposition 34. The Proposition 34 ballot initiative will end the death penalty in California and redirect some of the savings to law enforcement efforts to solve unresolved homicides and rapes. The two are among eight former corrections officials who participated in executions across the country who have signed an open letter to the voters of California urging passage Proposition 34. Details may be found here: http://bit.ly/executionersyes34

SOURCE National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

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In 1994, California voters passed the harshest three-strikes law in the country

 

 

In 1994, California voters passed the harshest three-strikes law in the country. Soon after, stories began to emerge about people receiving life sentences for petty crimes such as stealing a pair of gloves or a slice of pizza. Such cases challenged the commonly held belief that the law applied only to violent criminals.

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Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

Our interest in this issue deepened when we read the results of a 2010 report, shared with us by the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School. The study showed that more than 4,000 inmates in California are serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses under the three-strikes law. While it is possible that some of the inmates may be eligible for parole after 25 years, a majority face the prospect of decades of prison time. Many of these stiff sentences struck us as egregious.

Although judges have sentencing discretion in a very narrow band of three-strikes cases, the reality is that judges almost universally consider themselves bound under California law to impose a life sentence for a third felony offense, no matter how minor.

When we began working on this Op-Doc, as well as other short-format videos profiling nonviolent “three strikers” and their families, a portrait quickly emerged of Californians struggling with extreme poverty whose lives — in the words of one woman we interviewed — “can just be thrown away.” We also learned that the law is disproportionately applied to minorities, the mentally ill and the poor.

The case of Shane Taylor, the subject of this video, is common in many ways, but also unusual in that his judge and prosecutor have gone on record saying that his sentence is unfair and should be modified. Under current law, revising a sentence after it has been imposed is nearly impossible.

On Nov. 6, voters in California will decide whether to adopt Proposition 36, a ballot initiative that would reform the most draconian aspects of the law — and, in our view, restore the original intent of voters, which was to lock away violent career criminals for life, without unjustly throwing away the lives of small-time, nonviolent offenders like Mr. Taylor. Like most Californians, we believe that the punishment should fit the crime. We’re encouraged that polls show broad public support for the measure.

Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway received the best documentary screenplay award this year from the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for best documentary last year, for their film “Better This World.” Funding for the production of this video was raised in part by David W. Mills, a Stanford law professor who supports Proposition 36 and has advocated reform of California’s three-strikes law.

PLEASE CONTINUE THRU THIS LINK TO VIDEO….

In 1994, California voters passed the harshest three-strikes law in the country

In 1994, California voters passed the harshest three-strikes law in the country. Soon after, stories began to emerge about people receiving life sentences for petty crimes such as stealing a pair of gloves or a slice of pizza. Such cases challenged the commonly held belief that the law applied only to violent criminals.

A forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude by independent filmmakers and artists.

Opinion Twitter Logo.

Connect With Us on Twitter

For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

Our interest in this issue deepened when we read the results of a 2010 report, shared with us by the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School. The study showed that more than 4,000 inmates in California are serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses under the three-strikes law. While it is possible that some of the inmates may be eligible for parole after 25 years, a majority face the prospect of decades of prison time. Many of these stiff sentences struck us as egregious.

Although judges have sentencing discretion in a very narrow band of three-strikes cases, the reality is that judges almost universally consider themselves bound under California law to impose a life sentence for a third felony offense, no matter how minor.

When we began working on this Op-Doc, as well as other short-format videos profiling nonviolent “three strikers” and their families, a portrait quickly emerged of Californians struggling with extreme poverty whose lives — in the words of one woman we interviewed — “can just be thrown away.” We also learned that the law is disproportionately applied to minorities, the mentally ill and the poor.

The case of Shane Taylor, the subject of this video, is common in many ways, but also unusual in that his judge and prosecutor have gone on record saying that his sentence is unfair and should be modified. Under current law, revising a sentence after it has been imposed is nearly impossible.

On Nov. 6, voters in California will decide whether to adopt Proposition 36, a ballot initiative that would reform the most draconian aspects of the law — and, in our view, restore the original intent of voters, which was to lock away violent career criminals for life, without unjustly throwing away the lives of small-time, nonviolent offenders like Mr. Taylor. Like most Californians, we believe that the punishment should fit the crime. We’re encouraged that polls show broad public support for the measure.

Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway received the best documentary screenplay award this year from the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for best documentary last year, for their film “Better This World.” Funding for the production of this video was raised in part by David W. Mills, a Stanford law professor who supports Proposition 36 and has advocated reform of California’s three-strikes law.

PLEASE CONTINUE THRU THIS LINK TO VIDEO….

CA scientists prove marijuana fights aggressive cancers, human trials soon

Cancer survivor says medical marijuana saved her

A pair of scientists at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute are preparing to release research data which proves cannabidiol (CBD) – a marijuana compound – has the ability to “turn off” the activity of a gene which causes cancers to metastasize.

“The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there’s no toxicity. There’s really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited,” said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana – called cannabinoids – as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Marijuana is already proven to alleviate nausea and pain related to cancer therapies, but these recent findings indicate a much more vast use for the natural plant which has been vilified by politicians and U.S. laws for decades.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Photo credit: 

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

McAllister’s previous research has shown marijuana has anti-cancer properties as well.

The implications of further scientific research are staggering, yet severely limited, given current federal prohibition of the cannabis plant.

After seeing the initial results of testing cancer cells with the CBD compounds found in marijuana, Desprez and McAllister wondered if they’d made an error, so they repeated the tests again and again, each time receiving the same result: the cancer cells not only stopped acting “crazy” but reverted to a normal, healthy state.

“It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited,” said Desprez to The Huffington Post. “We want to get started with trials as soon as possible.”

Desprez hopes the human clinical trials will start without delay.

In an article posted on NBC Bay Area website, “‘If this plant were discovered in the Amazon today, scientists would be falling all over each other to be the first to bring it to market,’ said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at the University of California San Francisco, which has also found science behind marijuana’s efficacy.”

Marijuana advocates have suspected these truths for decades but have found themselves widely shunned or ignored by U.S. lawmakers.

Dr. T.G., an oncologist who wishes to remain anonymous, told Examiner.com that her practice encourages early-stage cancer patients to use marijuana in an effort to slow cancer progression.

“I’ve treated patients dealing with cancers for nearly thirty years and I am convinced even consuming cannabis-laced edibles can have a noticeable effect in reduction of cancer cell growth over the long-term. Although cannabis flowers themselves don’t contain enough of the CBD component to have the same effects as those in the California study, it is clear intensive research and human trials are warranted,” said Dr. T.G. “But it would be much more efficient if all cancer research laboratories could test cannabis and, with federal restrictions on cannabis cultivation, that level of research is not viable.”

With healthcare occupying a large segment of the 2012 election focus, President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney may want to consider the continued wisdom of marijuana prohibition.

By publicly calling for marijuana/cannabis to be rescheduled as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana will be recognized as having medicinal efficacy and would then be available not only for those 17 states which already have medical marijuana laws in place, but would make the plant available for further clinical research.

Dr. T.G. stated, “In light of emerging evidence and millions of patients who’ve received benefit from cannabis, there is no logical reason to avoid a federal reversal of prohibition.”

It may irritate politicians and prohibitionists nationwide, but it turns out the potheads of the world were right all along…

CONTINUE READING…

CA scientists prove marijuana fights aggressive cancers, human trials soon

Cancer survivor says medical marijuana saved her

A pair of scientists at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute are preparing to release research data which proves cannabidiol (CBD) – a marijuana compound – has the ability to "turn off" the activity of a gene which causes cancers to metastasize.

"The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there’s no toxicity. There’s really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana – called cannabinoids – as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Marijuana is already proven to alleviate nausea and pain related to cancer therapies, but these recent findings indicate a much more vast use for the natural plant which has been vilified by politicians and U.S. laws for decades.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Photo credit: 

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

McAllister’s previous research has shown marijuana has anti-cancer properties as well.

The implications of further scientific research are staggering, yet severely limited, given current federal prohibition of the cannabis plant.

After seeing the initial results of testing cancer cells with the CBD compounds found in marijuana, Desprez and McAllister wondered if they’d made an error, so they repeated the tests again and again, each time receiving the same result: the cancer cells not only stopped acting "crazy" but reverted to a normal, healthy state.

"It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited," said Desprez to The Huffington Post. "We want to get started with trials as soon as possible."

Desprez hopes the human clinical trials will start without delay.

In an article posted on NBC Bay Area website, "‘If this plant were discovered in the Amazon today, scientists would be falling all over each other to be the first to bring it to market,’ said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at the University of California San Francisco, which has also found science behind marijuana’s efficacy."

Marijuana advocates have suspected these truths for decades but have found themselves widely shunned or ignored by U.S. lawmakers.

Dr. T.G., an oncologist who wishes to remain anonymous, told Examiner.com that her practice encourages early-stage cancer patients to use marijuana in an effort to slow cancer progression.

"I’ve treated patients dealing with cancers for nearly thirty years and I am convinced even consuming cannabis-laced edibles can have a noticeable effect in reduction of cancer cell growth over the long-term. Although cannabis flowers themselves don’t contain enough of the CBD component to have the same effects as those in the California study, it is clear intensive research and human trials are warranted," said Dr. T.G. "But it would be much more efficient if all cancer research laboratories could test cannabis and, with federal restrictions on cannabis cultivation, that level of research is not viable."

With healthcare occupying a large segment of the 2012 election focus, President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney may want to consider the continued wisdom of marijuana prohibition.

By publicly calling for marijuana/cannabis to be rescheduled as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana will be recognized as having medicinal efficacy and would then be available not only for those 17 states which already have medical marijuana laws in place, but would make the plant available for further clinical research.

Dr. T.G. stated, "In light of emerging evidence and millions of patients who’ve received benefit from cannabis, there is no logical reason to avoid a federal reversal of prohibition."

It may irritate politicians and prohibitionists nationwide, but it turns out the potheads of the world were right all along…

TSA Screeners at LAX Arrested on Federal Drug Trafficking, Corruption Charges

Created on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:12
Written by DEA

Los Angeles, California – The DEA last week announced that two former and two current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have been arrested on federal narcotics trafficking and bribery charges for allegedly taking cash payments to allow large shipments of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to pass through the X-ray machines at TSA security checkpoints.

In addition to the current and former TSA officials, one drug courier is currently in state custody, and another drug courier is expected to surrender tomorrow. Authorities are continuing to search for another alleged drug courier named in a 22-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed this morning.

The indictment outlines five specific incidents in which current and former TSA employees took payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with drugs to pass through X-ray machines while TSA screeners looked the other way.

“This case underscores the unique nature of 21st century drug smuggling,” according to Briane M. Grey, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles. “Here, the defendants traded on their positions at one the world’s most crucial airport security checkpoints, used their special access for criminal ends, and compromised the safety and security of their fellow citizens for their own profit.”

“Airport screeners act as a vital checkpoint for homeland security, and air travelers should believe in the fundamental integrity of security systems at our nation’s airports,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation’s security needs.”

The indictment names the following individuals:

  • Naral Richardson , 30, of Los Angeles, who was arrested this morning. Richardson, who was terminated by TSA in 2010, is accused of orchestrating five incidents in which TSA screeners agreed to waive narcotics through security checkpoints.

Richardson is charged in five narcotics conspiracies, five substantive counts of possession with the intent to distribute narcotics, and two counts of offering bribes to public officials. If convicted, Richardson faces mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years, and he potentially faces life without parole in federal prison. Each bribery count also carries a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

  • John Whitfield , 23, of Los Angeles, who was arrested last night. Whitfield, a TSA screener who allegedly worked with Richardson to allow nearly four kilograms of methamphetamine to pass through LAX security, is also accused of personally allowing more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through LAX security.

Whitfield is charged in a conspiracy involving about four kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as substantive drug possession charges involving marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. Whitfield is also named as the recipient of six bribes. If he is convicted, Whitfield faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

  • Joy White , 27, of Compton, who was arrested this morning. White, who was terminated by TSA last year, allegedly was stationed at LAX screening checkpoints when she allowed drugs to pass through, including a shipment of more than 20 kilograms of cocaine.

White is charged in three narcotics conspiracies – involving a total of about 25 kilograms of cocaine and about 22 kilograms of marijuana – as well as three substantive drug possession counts. White is also charged with one count of receiving a bribe. If convicted, White would face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and could be sentenced to as much as life in prison.

  • Capeline McKinney , 25, of Los Angeles, who was arrested this morning. McKinney is a TSA screener who allegedly allowed more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through her security checkpoint.

McKinney is charged in a cocaine conspiracy involving 20 kilograms of the drug, as well as a substantive drug possession charge and one count of receiving a bribe. If convicted, McKinney faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

  • Duane Eleby , 28, of Downey, who is expected to surrender to authorities tomorrow morning. Eleby allegedly attempted to bring almost five kilograms of cocaine through a security checkpoint, but his narcotics were seized by law enforcement when he went through the wrong security checkpoint.

Eleby is charged in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, as well as possession with the intent to distribute nearly five kilograms of cocaine. If convicted, Eleby faces a five year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum statutory sentence of 40 years in prison.

  • Terry Cunningham , 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier, is currently being sought by authorities.
  • Stephen Bayliss , 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier, who currently is in state custody.

Cunningham and Bayliss are each in a conspiracy involving 22 kilograms of marijuana, as well as possession with intent to distribute marijuana. If convicted, each of them would face up to five years in federal prison.

All of the defendants who were arrested last night and this morning are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. If they are convicted of the charges in the indictment, the current and former TSA officials each face stiff mandatory minimum penalties, and each would face a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

The indictment outlines five separate incidents in which the TSA officials conspired with either drug couriers or an undercover operative working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to smuggle narcotics through security checkpoints at LAX.

These incidents occurred from early February 2011 and continued until early July 2011, according to the indictment.

In one incident, Richardson and White allegedly agreed that Eleby would bring about five kilograms of cocaine through a security checkpoint that was being staffed by White. But when Eleby failed to follow White’s instructions and went to the wrong security checkpoint, TSA officials uninvolved in the scheme seized Eleby’s bag, which was filled with cocaine. In the final incident outlined in the indictment, Richardson and Whitfield allegedly conspired with the DEA’s “confidential source” to allow about eight pounds of methamphetamine to pass through a security checkpoint that was being staffed by Whitfield. After the methamphetamine went through security, Whitfield met the confidential source in an LAX restroom to receive $600 in cash, which was the second half of the agreed-upon $1,200 fee for that pass through.

“TSA has assured the investigating agencies we will do everything we can to assist in their investigation,” said Randy Parsons, TSA Federal Security Director at LAX. “While these arrests are a disappointment, TSA is committed to holding our employees to the highest standards.”

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which worked in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles International Airport Narcotics Task Force, and the Los Angeles Airport Police.

CONTINUE READING….

Richard Lee is giving up his downtown Oakland-based pot businesses after a federal raid bankrupted him.

image

Above:  U.S. marshals stand at the entrance of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, April 2, 2012. The federal agents raided the medical marijuana training school at the heart of California’s pot legalization movement. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

OAKLAND, Calif.—The founder of a Northern California medical marijuana training school said Friday he was giving up his downtown Oakland-based pot businesses after a federal raid bankrupted him.

Richard Lee has been instrumental in pushing for ballot measures to legalize the drug, giving more than $1.5 million as the lead financial backer of a 2010 initiative to legalize the drug in the state. He said he will now focus solely on his advocacy work.

"I am now in this legal situation, so it’s better for me to step aside," Lee said.

Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Monday raided Oaksterdam University, Lee’s home and a medical marijuana dispensary he also founded. The purpose of the raids hasn’t been disclosed.

Oaksterdam University offers classes to would-be medical marijuana providers in fields ranging from horticulture to business to the legal ins-and-outs of running a dispensary. It does not distribute marijuana.

Agents confiscated marijuana, computers and files from Lee’s businesses, making it difficult to continue operations, he said. The university has held some classes since the raid and is soliciting donations to stay up and running. Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones is working to put together a new leadership team for the school, he said.

Lee said the agents who came to his home Monday morning showed him search warrants but did not tell him what they were seeking or the purpose of their investigation.

"It was something we’ve always feared, but we’ve always known it’s a part of the politics of this issue," Lee said.

Federal prosecutors in San Francisco, who have been leading a months-long crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Lee said he was not interrogated but simply detained while the agents conducted the raids. He was not arrested.

Lee said his decision to step back from the businesses was not part of any deal with investigators.

"We don’t know if it will make any difference at all to them," he said.

But the 49-year-old paraplegic and former roadie said he hopes the raid will make a difference in promoting the pro-marijuana legalization agenda.

A street protest drew several hundred demonstrators to downtown Oakland within a few hours of the raids, and more than 18,000 have signed Lee’s online petition on Change.org demanding an end to the federal crackdown on medical marijuana in California.

CONTINUE READING…

Medical marijuana backers to lobby California lawmakers rather than push for ballot initiative By Peter Hecht, McClatchy Newspapers

Medical marijuana backers to lobby California lawmakers rather than push for ballot initiative

By Peter Hecht, McClatchy Newspapers

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Medical marijuana advocates are dropping efforts to qualify a November ballot initiative to regulate California’s dispensary industry and instead plan a media campaign to lobby the Legislature to tackle the issue.

Cannabis industry groups including dispensaries, medical marijuana growers and a powerful union drafted the proposed measure in the face of an ongoing federal crackdown on California’s $1.5 billion medicinal pot trade.

But a top campaign director said initiative planners instead have decided to run television and radio ads to urge lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown to enact rules governing how medical marijuana outlets operate in the state.

"We’re not doing the initiative. We’re pulling the plug on it," said Dan Rush, director of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division for the United Food and Commercial Workers, which has been organizing California pot workers for the past two years.

Rush said Thursday that he had secured $1.2 million in pledges, mostly from the dispensary industry, toward $2 million to gather signatures for a November initiative.

But with time running out and other major funders undecided over whether to pursue a ballot or legislative strategy, Rush said initiative backers decided to take their case to the Capitol instead. He said the money pledged to date will be used for "a full-on media campaign," including lobbying and likely television and radio spots this summer.

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation seeking to accomplish many aims of the ballot initiative, the proposed Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act.

Ammiano’s Assembly Bill 2312 would create a Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement under the state Department of Consumer Affairs to approve or deny permits for dispensaries and oversee medical marijuana cultivation, transportation, distribution and sales.

The Ammiano bill also includes a provision in the proposed initiative to mandate that cities and counties permit one dispensary for every 50,000 residents unless local voters approve local ordinances to ban them.

But the Ammiano bill scraps plans for a 2.5 percent statewide tax on medical marijuana businesses in favor of provisions allowing local governments to impose a one-quarter percent to 2 percent tax on medicinal pot transactions.

"They were not going to get a tax passed in Sacramento," said Dale Gieringer, California director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Even a regulatory measure for marijuana could prove a tough sell to lawmakers, many of whom are skittish about being portrayed as pro-dispensary.

The proposed ballot initiative came together after California’s four U.S. attorneys announced charges Oct. 7 against targeted dispensaries, growers and financial speculators in the medical marijuana market and threatened pot business landlords with seizures of properties.

Backers of the initiative were up against a June deadline to gather a half-million valid voter signatures to qualify the measure.

"I always felt it was an uphill battle because we started so late," Gieringer said.

CONTINUE READING…