‘The Informant’ Tracks Latest on Calif. Prison Overcrowding, Occupy Oakland

BY Saskia de Melker  October 28, 2011 at 7:23 PM EST

The Informant blog, a product of KALW Radio in San Francisco, tracks the latest news and developments in cops, courts and communities in the Bay Area. We checked in with lead reporter Rina Palta on Friday afternoon to hear more about the top stories she has been covering recently: “realignment” of California prisons and Occupy Oakland.

A Supreme Court ruling last May mandated that the state of California must drastically reduce its prison population by as many as 40,000 inmates. The resulting bill, commonly known as “realignment,” went into effect earlier this month and will send less-dangerous criminals and those awaiting trial to county jails instead of state prisons.

Palta says that the bill’s implementation faces many challenges including a lack of funding and public concern that community safety will be compromised. For more background on “realignment,” watch NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels’ report on state prison overcrowding.

Palta also gave us an update on this week’s developments at Occupy Oakland where police and protesters clashed after more than a dozen Northern California law enforcement agencies took part in an early Tuesday raid on the encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Police used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and less-than-lethal weapons, which resulted in Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen being critically injured.

This incident has resurfaced a history of aggressive responses by the Oakland Police Department, Palta says, and a federal monitor has been assigned to watch over the law enforcement agency.

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