The possibility of another state tuition hike, increased county prisoners and plans to relocate Occupy Wall Street to the Southland’s gentle winter were among this week’s top local stories.
New Law Pumps Up L.A. County Jail Population
The number of inmates in Los Angeles County jails has grown by 1,000 since a new law aimed at easing state prison overcrowding went into effect Oct. 1, according to sheriff’s department officials.
Under the law, dubbed "realignment" by the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown, local counties are now responsible for housing and monitoring non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenders. That will keep them from clogging the state's chronically overcrowded prisons, but it puts considerable pressure on local facilities.
Prisoners convicted at the state level will not be eligible for early release by the counties. Still, opponents have said that their presence will force many jurisdictions - including Los Angeles - to release their own inmates early, in order to avoid illegal overcrowding at the local level.
“Realignment will result in early release on steroids,” L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley wrote in a letter to County Mayor Michael Antonovich.
The Los Angeles Times reported that L.A.’s county jails would be full by the end of November, Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said this is not true.
“There is room at the inn, and there’s more room as we go,” he said, citing the daily ebb and flow inmates.
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Cal State Tuition Could Rise 9 Percent Next Fall
California State University students could face a sixth consecutive year of tuition hikes if the state does not boost funding, according to CSU officials, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A Cal State budget request includes $397 million in increased state aid for the 2012-13 school year, to be used to cover enrollment growth, student services, faculty and staff raises, and other costs, the Times reported.
Whether the 23-campus system will receive the boost is still in question.
CSU and University of California each lost $650 million in state funding last year and an additional $100 million could be cut in January if state revenues do not meet projections.
Michael Jackson Doc Found Guilty
A verdict came in the trial of a doctor accused of causing the death of singer Michael Jackson came down Monday, more than two years after the King of Pop died from an overdose of a powerful surgical sedative.
Dr. Conrad Murray was guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the June 25, 2009 death of the pop star.
A seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for one full day Friday, Nov. 4, and part of the day Monday.
Murray could lose his medical license and up to four years in prison under state law. However, rules aimed at easing crowding in state prisons could also lead to his early release.
Occupy LA Could Become Winter Home for Movement
Instead of letting the snow bury their message, Occupy Wall Street protesters are toying with the idea of migrating west for the winter.
"The winter is brutal," organizer David DeGraw reportedly told occupying Angelenos Sunday, according to USC's Neon Tommy. "People in New York are talking about coming out here."
Los Angeles’ City Hall encampment is already packed with demonstrators, so fitting the roughly 200 tents from New York City could be a challenge.
But Darren Danks, who has assumed the role of Occupy LA media contact, said he's skeptical that the New York contingent will come here.
"They're willing to put on their long johns and dig in," Danks said.
Family Holds Vigil for Missing OC Teen
It’s been more than two weeks since 14-year-old Jackie Martinez left her parents’ Anaheim home to go candy shopping and meet up with a friend.
When she didn’t return home the night of Oct. 30, her family thought she was caught up in some pre-Halloween excitement. But Cristal Martinez, Jackie’s sister, said she never met up with her friend.
The only communication so far has been a single text message Halloween morning.
“She texted my brother and said she’d be home at night, Monday night,” Cristal Martinez said. “But we’ve heard nothing since then.”
The Martinez family held a vigil Friday night and posted information on Facebook, hoping photos of the 8th grade Girl Scout will jog someone’s memory.