| NEWS of the Day - January 18, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Los Angeles Times
Federal oversight of state prison healthcare to end
A report on how to wrap up six years of receivership is due by April 30. Many of the program's goals have been accomplished, judge says.
by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
January 18, 2012
Reporting from Sacramento -- Federal oversight of prison healthcare in California is nearing an end, a judge said Tuesday, six years after he ruled that abysmal medical conditions were contributing to an inmate death every week.
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson said Tuesday that healthcare in state lockups has improved significantly since he seized control of the system, a move that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
"While some critical work remains outstanding — most notably on construction issues — it is clear that many of the goals of the receivership have been accomplished," Henderson wrote in a three-page order.
State officials were rebuffed when they sought to end the receivership in 2009. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown applauded the judge's decision.
"We have been working very hard to clean up the mess in the prisons and I appreciate the judicial recognition of our efforts," the governor said in a statement.
Henderson directed state officials, receiver J. Clark Kelso and an inmate advocacy group that sued the state over prison conditions to meet and file a report by April 30, spelling out how to go forward. The parties will have to determine how progress will be measured, sustained and monitored, according to Henderson's order.
Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in a statement that "the department is ready and willing to start planning for the end of federal oversight of prison medical care."
Donald Specter, director of the Prison Law Office, the inmate advocacy group, warned that progress could be fleeting.
"I'm very worried about the state backsliding, especially in times when money is tight," he said.
Specter pointed to a court case involving San Quentin Correctional Facility in the 1980s. Medical conditions eventually improved, he said, but problems arose again after the case was dismissed.
In addition, Specter said medical care in some prisons remains poor despite improvements, and he criticized the state for stalling the construction of new facilities.
Henderson said in his order that the end of receivership won't mean the end of monitoring. He wrote that he expects there will be a "period of oversight" to make sure the prison system can "sustain the progress that has been and will be achieved."
In 2006, Henderson ruled that medical conditions in California prisons were so poor that they violated inmates' constitutional rights. Improvements came slowly, however, and the judge fired the first receiver he put in place to revamp the system.
Three years later, Henderson rejected the state's effort to end receivership, saying he had "no confidence that such improvements would continue, or even be maintained, in the absence of the receivership."
Supreme Court to schools: Take care with First Amendment
The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down appeals from two Pennsylvania school districts that were successfully sued by students who posted on the Internet malicious mockeries of their school principals.
The court's action puts school officials on notice they may violate the First Amendment if they try to discipline students for online posts made from their home computers.
Last year, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that school officials cannot police “off-campus speech” by students unless they can show it caused a major disruption at school. Based on that standard, the appeals court upheld free-speech lawsuits by the students over profiles of their principal that one judge called “lewd and vile.”
In one case, an eighth-grade girl posted a mock profile of her principal with his photo that called him a “sex addict” who enjoyed “hitting on students” on his office. In a second, a high school senior from western Pennsylvania profiled his principal on MySpace as a drug user, a “big fag” and a “big whore.”
After the students were briefly suspended, they and their parents sued the school districts, citing the First Amendment.
A national coalition of school administrators and counselors had urged the high court to take up the issue. They said the “explosion” of social media had blurred the lines between on-campus and off-campus speech. And they argued that the Constitution “does not demand that school officials remain idle in the face of vulgar and malicious attacks.”
But without comment, the high court turned away appeals not only from the Pennsylvania schools but also from one in West Virginia. In the latter case, a student's online attack was directed against another student.
The court also turned down an appeal that sought to allow a greater use of Christian prayers at county council meetings.
The justices let stand a ruling holding a North Carolina county board violated the First Amendment's ban on an "establishment of religion" by opening its sessions with a Christian prayer. The judges agreed, however, the board could have a non-denominational prayer at each session.
From the FBI
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez Indicted for Attempting to Assassinate the President of the United States
from U.S. Attorney's Office
January 17, 2012
WASHINGTON—Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was indicted by a federal grand jury today for attempting to assassinate the president of the United States. The indictment stems from the November 11, 2011 shooting near the White House.
The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director of the FBI's Washington Field Office; and David Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
The federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a 17-count indictment against Ortega-Hernandez, who has been in custody since his arrest November 16, 2011. In addition to the attempted assassination charge, Ortega-Hernandez was charged with assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon, injuring property of the United States, and related firearms charges. The grand jury returned criminal charges against Ortega-Hernandez for violating District of Columbia law as well. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the charges carry a possible prison term of life imprisonment.
According to the government's evidence, on November 11, 2011, at about 9 p.m., the defendant drove his Honda Accord westbound in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue NW. He stopped the vehicle just past the entrance to the Ellipse, and fired several rounds at the White House. No one was injured. FBI investigators examined the building and located several confirmed bullet impact points on the south side of the building on or above the second story residence area. Several bullets and fragments also were collected in the area near the impact points.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, and Special Agent in Charge Beach expressed their appreciation to all those who diligently investigated this case from the FBI, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Park Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys George P. Varghese and John W. Borchert of the National Security Section of the United States Attorney's Office.
Our Fight Against Human Trafficking
From the Department of Homeland Security
by Secretary Janet Napolitano
Today, I was honored to host a roundtable discussion at the White House to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking. Every year thousands of men, women and children become trafficked into the international sex trade and forced labor throughout the world – including right here in the United States.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month , and today's meeting brought together representatives from across government, NGOs, law enforcement, first responders, private business and a brave young woman named Shyima Hall to continue to shed light on what is often described as a hidden crime.
When Shyima was just 9 years old, she was forced into domestic servitude in Egypt for a family and later brought with them to California. If it wasn't for a neighbor suspecting something was wrong and reporting it to the Orange County Child Protective Services, who then worked with the Irvine Police Department to rescue her and contact ICE, Shyima might have remained captive much longer.
Today, Shyima is free, and she recently became an American citizen. Her captors went to jail. This story is a powerful reminder of how vital individuals and communities are in the effort to protect America.
Human trafficking is a horrendous crime, and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. To that end, two years ago, I launched the DHS Blue Campaign to coordinate and enhance the Department's anti-human trafficking efforts. And while we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day.
I encourage you, as I encouraged all of the representatives at today's meeting, to take a few minutes to review some of the indicators of human trafficking and to report human trafficking to authorities if suspected.
Learn more about the DHS Blue Campaign.