States Boost Security After bin Laden Raid

 
TERROR WATCH: Public safety officials around the country are stepping up security in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Saying the threat from al-Qaeda is "not going to end," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo increased the presence of security personnel in transit systems and other locations after the terrorist leader's death. National Guard bases around the country have been placed on high alert, and homeland security officials from Alaska to Arizona are urging vigilance, even if there are no specific threats against their states. 

PAROLE FOR KILLERS: Prison overcrowding is a well-documented problem in California , where the state is trying to reduce its teeming incarcerated population. One method that Governor Jerry Brown has embraced is drawing attention: granting parole to convicted killers. The Sacramento Bee reports that Brown, who took office in January, so far has agreed to parole 82 percent of the convicted murderers recommended for release by the state parole board. That rate differs sharply from Brown's two predecessors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who agreed with 27 percent of the board's recommendations for convicted killers, and Gray Davis, who agreed with just 2 percent.

COURT OVERHAUL: A GOP-proposed overhaul of the Florida court system will be going to the voters next year amid accusations that Republicans are asserting their power over the judicial branch because they do not agree with some of its decisions. The proposal, championed by House Speaker Dean Cannon, "increases the Legislature's influence on the state court system," The New York Times reports , requiring Senate confirmation of the governor's Supreme Court picks, among other changes. Cannon wanted to go further by splitting the state's high court into civil and criminal divisions — the way Texas already does — but that did not pass the state Senate. Virtually all of the state's legal establishment opposed the idea, which would have allowed Republican Governor Rick Scott to add three new justices. Some Florida Republicans have been critical of decisions made by the state Supreme Court, including recent ones that knocked GOP referenda off state ballots.

MENTAL HEALTH COURTS: Nathan Deal, the new governor of Georgia , has signed legislation encouraging more mental health courts in the state. Deal believes the courts, which aim to treat mentally unstable and drug-addicted offenders rather than send them to prison, can help reduce crowding in the state's correction facilities. "Far too many young people and adults suffering from addiction are crowding our jails, costing our state millions and depleting our workforce," Deal said, according to the Athens Banner-Herald .
 
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