Big States Staring at Big Corrections Cuts
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: Illinois could become just the third state to legislatively repeal the death penalty since it was reinstated nationally by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. New Mexico eliminated its death penalty in 2009. New Jersey did so in 2007. Skeptics note that if Illinois Governor Pat Quinn approves repeal legislation sent to him by lawmakers last week — despite his stated support for capital punishment — it would be another case of legislators and governors taking on the death penalty just after they faced the voters. New Jersey repealed its death penalty in a lame-duck session weeks after Election Day. In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson was a supporter of capital punishment during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, but signed legislation to eliminate it a year later, after his campaign ended. Public opinion surveys have long shown that voters support capital punishment .
PRESCRIPTION-ONLY: As Stateline reported last year , Oregon has received national kudos for an aggressive effort to stop the manufacture of methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that has fueled crime sprees and public health concerns. In 2005, the state was the first to make the key ingredient in meth, a common cold and allergy drug known as pseudoephedrine, available by doctor's prescription only. Mississippi passed a similar law last year, and now Missouri and Nevada are considering their own. Such laws may become more attractive to lawmakers since a common alternative method of preventing pseudoephedrine from falling into the wrong hands — electronic tracking systems that identify who is purchasing it, and in what quantities — are not doing the job, The Associated Press reported .
PAROLE BOARD OUSTED: Outrage following the murder of a Massachusetts police officer by a career criminal who was released by the state parole board has resulted in the ousting of all six officials who freed the inmate. Governor Deval Patrick, under pressure to respond to the killing from police groups and state lawmakers, announced that five parole board members who voted to release Domenic Cinelli had been fired; a sixth who took part in the 6-0 decision resigned earlier. Patrick's response to the scandal was so forceful that The Boston Globe 's editorial page cast it as a significant turning point in his governorship. "Moments before Patrick took to the podium…the assumption was that he'd offer little more than a few proposed reforms that would stagger into a legislative committee that would also serve as their grave. In a few sternly delivered sentences, that all changed," the paper wrote .