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NEWS FROM ACROSS CALIFORNIA

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POSTED October 22, 2014 7:34 p.m.

• CALIFORNIA PRISONS END RACE POLICY: SACRAMENTO (AP) — California officials agreed Wednesday to end a policy in which it segregated prison inmates after riots based on their race as a way of preventing further violence.

Officers have frequently locked inmates in their cells based on which races were involved in the riot, even if individual inmates of that race were not directly implicated.

The 21-page settlement of a lawsuit first filed in 2008 says future lockdowns may not be imposed or lifted based on race or ethnicity.

Instead, officers can lock down every inmate in an affected area or lock down individual inmates suspected of being involved in the incident or the gangs that were involved.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also agreed to provide inmates with chances for outdoor exercise any time a lockdown lasts longer than 14 days.

The agreement with attorneys representing inmates came after the U.S. Justice Department said in a non-binding court filing last year that the old policy violated the 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection under the law.

State officials did not acknowledge any violation of inmates’ constitutional rights as part of the agreement.

“We see this as a tremendous result,” Rebekah Evenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office, said in an email.

Corrections officials did not immediately comment.

The class-action settlement has not been filed with the federal court in Sacramento, nor has a federal judge agreed to its terms. A copy of the settlement was obtained by The Associated Press.

 

• DAVIS VOTES TO RETURN ARMORED VEHICLE: DAVIS (AP) — Officials in a Northern California city have decided to return an armored military vehicle that their police department received from the federal government.

The Davis City Council voted Tuesday to give back the $700,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. According to KXTV in Sacramento, Davis Mayor Pro Tempore Robb Davis said the vehicle risked eroding the trust the department had built up with the community.

The Davis vote follows criticism of the use of armored vehicles by police responding to protesters angry about the shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Police in San Jose have also decided to give up their armored vehicle, though they said they were discussing the possibility even before the scrutiny brought on by the unrest in Ferguson.

 

• FREE MEALS FOR ALL STUDENTS AT SANTA ANA SCHOOLS: SANTA ANA (AP) — All 57,000 students in Santa Ana schools are eligible to receive a free school breakfast and lunch regardless of whether the child qualifies for the federal free-or-reduced-price meal program.

The Orange County Register reports Wednesday that it’s the second straight year that the Department of Agriculture has approved all 57 campuses in Santa Ana Unified for the program aimed at improving nutrition among needy students.

Federal and local officials have said the program hopes to capture all needy students who don’t always apply for subsidized meals because of the stigma attached to receiving a free lunch, while friends and fellow classmates pay.

The newspaper says it saves schools countless staffing hours by not having to process thousands of applications each year.

Santa Ana Unified is Orange County’s largest school district.

 

• MAN ADMITS TO MARIJUANA GROW IN NATIONAL FOREST: SACRAMENTO (AP) — A Mexican national had pleaded guilty to growing thousands of marijuana plants in a Northern California national forest.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento said that 30-year-old Mario Lopez-Parra pleaded guilty Wednesday to growing 7,589 marijuana plants in the Shasta Trinity National Forest.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, investigators observed Lopez-Parra at the site and arrested him on June 24, 2014.

Lopez-Parra is scheduled to be sentenced in January. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

 

• HEALDSBURG BANS TOBACCO SALES TO ANYONE UNDER 21: HEALDSBURG (AP) — Healdsburg has become the first city in California to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the city council voted 4-1 this week to pass the ordinance, which came at the urging of doctors and the American Lung Association.

The new rule raises the age from 18 to 21 for a person to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products. It also includes electronic cigarettes.

Councilman Tom Chambers says officials in the Sonoma County city have an obligation to take steps to turn the tide on smoking.

Casting the dissenting vote was Councilman Gary Plass, who argued that the city is opening itself up to lawsuits from the tobacco industry and retailers.

Healdsburg is a city of 11,000 people in wine country 70 miles north of San Francisco.

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