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August Osage County…Film vs. play

Sometimes theatrical plays don’t translate well onto the screen.  I suspect, based on my reading of the play (I have not seen the production), that this might be the case with Tracy Letts Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County, vs. his movie adaptation.  

In the play, the first line of the prologue is revelatory. “Life is very long…” (10) This intensely dark comedy epitomizes the term “baggage” with the unfolding of every single character within the play, and Letts uses their dysfunctional personal and interpersonal dynamics to set the tone in the storyline, which drives the plot forward.  This is certainly the case in the film as well.  The audience is told that life is long against a backdrop of miles flat Oklahoma fields and cattle.  

There is no doubt that Meryl Streep lived up to her reputation, and executed a brilliant performance as Violet the cancer-laden, vicious, pill-popping, abusive, bitter Weston family matriarch (and untamed shrew), who is at the helm of her family’s extreme dysfunction.  As good as Streep was, and even with the all-star cast in this adaptation, the film has some issues.  Let’s start with the fact that the trailer sets this film up as a comedy, but in no way is this storyline comedic, in fact, it is epitomizes that worst kind of individual and family dysfunction.  It’s brutal.

Image

Violet, who is suffering from mouth cancer, spews venomous words in rapid fire against every member of her family–to include her daughters, following her husbands suicide.  Violet is toxic and overbearing; she is nothing short of a monster. Roberts plays her eldest daughter Barbara, who is the acorn that didn’t fall too far from the tree, also does an amazing job, but having two characters that are this “large,” seems to take away from the intensity of the other.  

Some of the themes so present in the play are muddied when adapted over into a film.  Such as the disconnect present in a family who are aimlessly going through the motions of life, and none of them are on the same page. At times, it felt contrived.  Also, the dinner-table scene goes on and on, and is somewhat stifling. 

At the core, this story is about abuse, and generational abuse shared between all the women in this family, and the many skeletons that are in their closets.

Plotting your way to a compelling screenplay

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a webinar on PLOT for The Writers Store on December 18 from 1:00 – 4:00 (Pacific Standard Time).

ABOUT THE WEBINAR

Screenwriting structure can be daunting to the best of writers if the elements are not properly understood.  In fact, screenwriting has more structure than any other form of creative writing, with the exception of certain styles of poetry.  While each element is vital to the art of screenwriting, plot is probably the most misunderstood of all. It is not story.  

Even though we can isolate each element of structure, and compartmentalize how they function in a script, this is not about a formula for writing, but having a greater understanding of the building blocks that make a story great.  Carla says, “Screenwriting is not like any other kind of writing, because it is for a visual medium.  While the elements of story (plot, storyline, character arcs, story arcs, and good dialogue are also shared in creating a work of fiction, there are a couple of fundamental differences in the process of writing for the screen.”  One major difference is the use of exposition to drive a plot forward.

Carla currently teaches screenwriting at Santa Barbara City College Continued Learning and holds regular workshops in Montecito.  She has written a dozen original screenplays and two have been optioned.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • The difference between plot and story
  • How action is used in the plot to advance the story
  • The relationship between plot, story and character
  • Is plot just about a random sequence of events?
  • Plotting = planning
  • Timing is everything: How does timing influence the evolvement of the story?
  • How character creates plot

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Novice and advanced screenwriters
  • Screenwriters who want a better understanding of plot
  • Writers who want to learn more about the craft of screenwriting
  • Writers who want to challenge themselves
  • Screenwriters who write in all genres
  • Screenwriters who want to learn
  • Anyone “truly” interested in writing a industry-acceptable, compelling story for the screen

For information or to sign-up, please click on the following link:  

http://www.writersstore.com/plotting-your-way-to-a-compelling-screenplay/

Good news!

Recently, I posted something about WriterDuet.com, the free online screenwriting program that allows you to write collaboratively, seeing all edits as you write. Whether you’re writing with a writing partner, or as a group, or working on screenplay solo, WriterDuet is a great program; it has my endorsement.  Another wonderful perk…WriterDuet has a page for outlining, story-boarding and creating index cards. With the flick of a finger, using the command key, we can go back and forth between our notes, and insert right into the script!

With the increasing popularity of WriterDuet, there have been requests for a desktop version, which is in the works. This will be fully compatible with the free web app, and will feature offline access to your scripts while saving your files automatically to your hard drive.

A Kickstarter campaign for the desktop version has been launched, and we’d love your support, and greatly appreciate your help promoting this campaign: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1721272044/writerduet-collaborative-screenwriting-software

Please check it out! 

 

 

SOS…SAN FRANCISCO, PLEASE HELP FIND SEAN SIDI

I normally don’t post this kind of thing, but a friend of mine (another writer), who lives in San Francisco sent me the following to re-post. There is a young man who has been missing since May 21st in San Francisco.  He is 19 and has a traumatic brain injury which makes him very fragile.   Please read the following, and re-post if you feel led. 
Thanks so much!

 
 

I normally do not post anything like this on Poetic Shutterbug but this particular case is personal.  Sean is a regular visitor to the Botanical Garden in San Francisco, where I work.  I have seen him many times at the garden, as it is one of his favorite spots in Golden Gate Park.  He is a friendly and sweet guy who because of his previous brain injury is very fragile.

I and some of my coworkers were shocked and extremely saddened to hear of his disappearance on May 21st, a month ago.  He was last known to be in the area of Golden Gate Park when he went missing.

Sean is 19 years old and has a traumatic brain injury which makes it imperative that he be found ASAP.  There have been searches conducted both in Golden Gate Park, the Ocean Beach area and personally within our garden (the botanical garden).

For all the details you can visit his website at http://www.seansidi.com

21st century moms – multitasking proficients

My latest feature article published in Ventura County Reporter:

21st century M.O.M.s

Masters Of Multitasking

By Carla Iacovetti 05/09/2013

“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”
– Marion C. Garretty

The role of motherhood has dramatically changed over the last 100 years. During much of the 18th and 19th centuries, women did not do much outside of the home. A woman’s success was measured by her ability to care for her family and maintain order in the home. She was the center of the family, and all of her duty was fundamental to her roll as the mother.
Carol Costello Casey, grandmother to the local Curran surfing family, was a full-time working mother and loved every minute of it.
“There was nothing like watching my children grow,” she said. “Nothing is more important in life than being a mother. I’ve been fortunate to have three wonderful children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and I greatly treasure each and every one of them.”
A native of Boston, Casey left at 18 after she married a marine. The young couple lived in North Carolina and Florida, and then made their way to the San Fernando Valley, eventually ending up here in Ventura County.
Though working full-time was less common during Casey’s early years of motherhood, she managed to work and successfully raise three kids. Even with a full-time job, Casey always focused on the family and diligently strived to nurture her kids.
“I’m so proud of my kids and how they have raised their own families. It’s been humbling to watch the legacy of this family continue to develop,” Casey said.


Carol Costello Casey (right) with her daughter Debbie,
who is the mother of Timmy, Nathaniel, Joshua and Taylor Curran.

Casey admits that being grandmother to the famed surfer Timmy Curran was exciting, but it did not ever take away from her love and devotion to any of the other grandkids.
“All my grandkids are the same in my eyes. Each have unique personalities, talents and abilities, and I’m forever proud of them all,” Casey said.
It was fun to pick up a magazine and see her grandson’s face on the cover.
“What amazed me the most with Timmy is that his personality never changed,” she said. “He was this funny, happy-go-lucky, normal kid, who was making a lot of money and gaining a lot of popularity in the surf world. I credit his stability to his parents — they did a great job of raising Timmy and the three other boys. Joshua works in the television industry, Nathaniel is also a pro surfer, and Taylor, who has recently graduated from high school, is also competitively surfing.
“Timmy’s break happened when surfing was just taking root and the sport was being appreciated for the sport itself — the timing was right. It’s hard to fathom that I have a celebrity for a grandson because I don’t think of him that way. He’s my first grandson, and like all the others, he holds a special place in my heart.”
“Mothers work so hard,” she continued. “I think all of the expectations that surround motherhood makes it all the more challenging to raise a family in today’s world. I admire mothers today who can juggle the responsibilities of home life, work and all of the extra activities and do a great job of raising a family.”
Even though the dynamics today have become more intense, Casey believes that a child’s behavior and how it develops in life are very dependent on family life. “After all, family life is all you have. It’s the only thing that you have that really belongs to you.”

It’s complicated …

Because most families require two incomes, life has grown a little more complicated.
“My advice to working moms is to have quality time together around the dinner table. Turn off the television, set the cell phones aside, and spend time talking as a family together — listen to one another,” Casey said.
Even though life was busy for Casey, sharing a weekly meal together became a family routine.
“I think it’s important to establish that pattern when they’re young. With the world going at a much faster pace, there are a lot of distractions today; but if a mother will make this a priority, her kids will thank her later,” she said.
While women still share the experience of pregnancy and endure the pains of labor, the life of today’s mother is complicated. In fact, nowadays a mother needs to be a multitasking proficient.


Amanda Armitage at Disney’s California Adventure with her twin sons.

Amanda Armitage is the full-time IT director for John Muir Charter School and the president of Ventura County Mothers of Multiples (VCMOM), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers support for parents of twins or higher order multiples. The organization was originally founded in October 1952 as the Ventura Mothers of Twins Club.
Armitage’s involvement with VCMOM is interesting, particularly because she never really wanted children.
“My husband and I weren’t going to even have kids, but we enjoy life and thought it would be fun to procreate!” she said.
Amanda and her husband, Jesse, are also comedians who do competitive improv at Ventura Improv Company (VIC). The couple met at VIC, and when she was pregnant with twins, she performed in a contest at VIC and won.
There are two ways you can look at having dual births: Double trouble or a double blessing.
“Finding out I was pregnant with twins was exciting but sobering. When Jesse and I saw the ultrasound together, all my husband could do was cuss repeatedly,” Armitage said. They quickly began to realize that things would significantly change — starting with dual car seats, a different car and a new place to live. The list kept growing.
“Today, we are very much hands-on parents, and Jesse is extremely involved,” she said. “I have an awesome, rockin’ husband that helps out! Our fraternal twin boys just turned 7 on March 24th, which is also their dad’s birthday.”
Even though Armitage never felt like the motherly type and did not plan on walking down this path, she’s happy with their decision.
“I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on being a mom. It’s so crazy — the minute they were born I felt so connected. No one can possibly prepare you for this kind of bonding. You really don’t understand this until it happens. Once you see your baby for the first time, you’re a gonner! It’s instinctive!”
“I love being a mom. I work full time, and I have a husband, but my boys come first. You really don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’ to be a good mom. Just get down with them. Spend that little bit of extra time with them,” Armitage said.
At the VCMOMS, Armitage likes to encourage new moms. She believes today’s moms put too much pressure on themselves by wanting to do everything right, and it can wear a person out. “In the end, that isn’t good for yourself or for your children.”
The American Sociological Review posted a recent study about the busyness of working mothers.
“Working mothers spend significantly more time multitasking at home than working dads. And those mothers aren’t happy about it,” the report stated. According to the research, which was performed at Michigan State University, a large percentage of working mothers were on “overdrive.” Sociologist Barbara Schneider co-authored the research paper revealing that the mothers experienced a lot of stress and strain from the time they walked in the door each evening.
It is true that working mothers have numerous obstacles to face. Learning how to manage the home front, corral children and stay on top of a work schedule is no easy task. Often times, moms need support, especially if they are new mothers with unusual circumstances.
Becoming a mother has given Armitage a greater appreciation of mothers. It is the bigger reason why she has become so involved with VCMOMS. “I just want to be the voice of encouragement to other mothers — those who are blessed with multiple births — letting them know that they’re not alone.”
Being a new mom is exhausting, but even more so when you have multiple births. “It’s not just exhausting, but it can be emotionally challenging. The responsibility of making the right decisions for a mom and your newborn babies can be daunting,” Armitage said.
Armitage encourages other mothers to embrace diversity and not to be so hard on themselves. “Don’t be afraid to be yourself,” she said.
Life-long Ventura County resident, Tori Hall is also the mother of identical twins girls. Izzi and Nickey Hall turned 4 in March. Tori is a single mom.


Tori Hall with her twin daughters.

“There is no family history of twins in either my family or my ex-husband’s, and it is safe to say I was in total shock when I found out I was having twins. I had no idea how I would adjust to that,” Hall said.
“I’m five feet three inches and very tiny. I had a lot of complications. At 20 weeks, I was put on bed rest and could not go back to work. It was a very stressful pregnancy,” said Hall. She had a medical disorder that caused her cervix to shrink during the pregnancy, and there was a serious risk she might lose fetuses.
“I ended up going through a divorce when my girls were a little over a year old. That would be hard enough with one baby, but with two … it was nothing short of exasperating, and something needed to change,” Hall said.

It takes a village

“My ex-husband and I planned on starting a family, and we were excited about it, but you’re never quite ready for double duty. Learning to go back to work and not having a partner at home was really challenging,” Hall said. It took time for Hall to find a happy medium, but she attributes any success she’s had to her “village.”
“I’m grateful for my village, which encompasses grandmothers, family members, friends, my daycare support and my ex-husband, who has been tremendously supportive,” Hall said.
Mothers today have to be more than prepared. Juggling the balance is not easy. There is pressure from the work front.
“You know, we’re supposed to be there and focused, but when your kid is home sick with a fever, it makes it hard to give 100 percent. Being a working mom is hard. I don’t even believe that women were ever made to do all of this while raising kids. It’s not an easy task. I’ve been fortunate enough to have understanding supervisors, but that’s not always the case,” Hall said. She never takes a normal lunch break. Her lunch hour consists of running errands, going to the grocery store and taking care of family-related business.
“I can’t even describe how fortunate I feel being allowed to have these two little girls.” Motherhood enthralls Hall, and she wants to take it all in and cherish each day with them.
News of the Boston bombings has been very hard for her to watch. “I can’t really watch it. That kind of sadness and loss, especially the loss of a child, is just far too overwhelming.”
Hall focuses on the here and now, realizing the impact that it will have on her kids later.
“My kids are at formidable ages. I’m always trying to teach them ways to communicate and teach them whom they can trust — like firemen, policemen or anyone in uniform like their dad, who is a tech sergeant in the Air National Guard.”
Having identical twins holds particular challenges. She strives daily to make sure her girls realize that they are distinctive and individual, and that includes her monitoring the way they dress. Hall purposefully does not dress them identically because she wants them to develop independently of each other.
“My advice for single moms — get a village. It will make life a lot easier. Don’t think you have to do this all alone. Motherhood is hard. You need help, so embrace it,” Hall said.
The mothers of the 21st century have come a long way, and there is no doubt that the grandmothers of yesterday might find the barrage of multitasking requirements a bit challenging, if not overwhelming, but there is one thing that unites the young and the old — motherhood. It is what connects all life, even in the midst of a complicated and imperfect world. It is where the imperfect is perfectly wonderful. 

Original Article:  Ventura County Reporter

Delicious, quick and easy!

Great, great recipe, and she’s right… It’s quick, easy and tasty!

TASTE...and See

Sometimes cooking can be a real pain in the _ _ _ _ especially when you’re tired, or in a hurry.  This is a great little recipe for just those moments.  It’s fast, easy and seriously tasty!  Try it–you’ll like it!!!

FRESH SPINACH AND TOMATO SALAD WITH PENNE PASTA IN A PARMESAN OLIVE OIL, LEMON-GARLIC DRESSING 

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 pound penne pasta or small rigatoni

1 bag fresh, organic baby spinach

2 large, ripe tomatoes (diced)

3 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)

3/4 cup fresh shredded or shaved parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

course black pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large fresh-squeezed lemon

3 fresh basil leaves (minced)

LET’S GET COOKING!

In a stock pot boil water to cook the pasta.  Cook according to directions (al dente).

While the pasta is cooking, put the spinach, 2 cloves crushed garlic, the parmesan cheese, and the tomatoes in a large salad…

View original post 151 more words

Three strikes, you’re out: Voters decide the future of stringent law of life imprisonment for repeat felons

Three strikes, you're out

Three strikes, you’re out

Voters decide the future of stringent law of life imprisonment for repeat felons

By Carla Iacovetti 08/16/2012
“The law is reason free from passion.” – Aristotle

Whether one agrees with the “three strikes” law or not, it is a reality here in California. In 1994, “three strikes” was passed by the Legislature, and signed by Gov. Pete Wilson and approved by voters as a ballot initiative. While the “three strikes” law was passed as a result of several highly publicized violent crimes, it has posed a series of harsh circumstances for those who did not commit serious and or/violent crimes.

“The law doesn’t say that the current charge has to be serious,” says Kim Gibbons, a Ventura County senior deputy district attorney. “It has to be any felony if they have two serious felony convictions.”

According to the California Penal Code, section 667 (b), the three strikes law is intended to “ensure longer prison sentences and greater punishment for those who commit a felony and have been previously convicted of serious and/or violent felony offenses.” Yet many of those who have been sentenced have not committed violent crimes.

“The law has sentenced people to life imprisonment for relatively small crimes such as drug possession or petty theft,” said Michael Romano, co-founder and director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project.


Michael Romano, co-founder and director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project.

In addition to repeat offenders facing life in prison for nonviolent crimes, the sentences are doubled for prior offenders, and juvenile and out-of-state convictions also count as strikes.

Some have commended the law as being the definitive get-tough-on-crime measure, while others have been concerned with unfair and unnecessary imprisonment. Conceivably, a man who had two prior felonies could spend 25 years to life in prison for shoplifting.

“That is not a way to run a state or a criminal justice police. A life sentence for petty theft or drug possession is excessive,” Romano said.

As controversial as the law itself are the wide-ranging studies that show opposing statistics where the effectiveness of the law is concerned. Recently, the Los Angeles Times reviewed the findings of a study on the effectiveness of the three strikes law. Robert Parker, the director of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of California, Riverside, said that the three-strikes law has done nothing to deter crime but has increased the state’s prison population. In fact, because of the findings, Parker claims that the three-strikes law should be repealed.

“If this very expensive policy isn’t really impacting crime, what are we doing? Why are we spending all of this money? Why are we cutting health, welfare and education repeatedly to fund an expensive system that doesn’t deliver on what its promises were?” he asked.

In 2011, an initiative for the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 was filed and approved by the attorney general. California Proposition 36 is scheduled to appear on the November 6 ballot as an initiative state statute with the hope of seeing the original intent of California’s three-strikes law restored. This will impose life sentences for dangerous criminals like rapists, murderers and child molesters. According to Ballotpedia, if passed, Proposition 36 will result in the following:

1.    Revise the three-strikes law to impose life sentences only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

2.    Authorize resentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike convictions were not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the resentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.

3.    Continue to impose a life sentence penalty if the third-strike conviction was for “certain non-serious, nonviolent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession.”

4.    Maintain the life sentence penalty for felons with “non-serious, nonviolent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder or child molestation.”

The issue in question seems to be related to the types of felonies committed. The way the law is now, any felony can send an offender to a long-term prison sentence. According to Gibbons, the district attorney’s office is required to file, no matter what the offense. Even so, there is a process that goes something like this: Once the DA’s office files, then the defendant is arraigned in court, or in some cases there will be a grand jury hearing, and the grand jury might issue an indictment.

“At a preliminary hearing, the DA’s office will produce evidence (police and civilian), and the judge decides if there’s enough evidence to hold a trial,” Gibbons said. “We have to produce probable cause at the preliminary trial.”

If the proposed initiative goes through, those prior felons who commit nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will not receive a life sentence, but they will receive twice the normal sentence.

A lot of times, the defendant will plead guilty if some of the priors are stricken. In most cases, judges will strike in more than one prior. For example, suppose a criminal has committed two residential burglaries in the past, and now he’s charged with grand theft in the amount of $950 or more. If the defendant has one serious prior felony, chances are he will not be facing 25 years to life; but instead of the normal three-year sentence, he will get six years.

“The judge has a choice of giving the defendant 16 months, two years or three years,” Gibbons said.

Every prior felon sentenced in this way has a probation report prepared by a probation officer. These reports are very thorough, and judges make decisions based on the probation report and the nature of the crime or crimes. The judge will know from the report what the defendant has done and his/her history, and if the person is guilty, the judge will determine whether he/she will go to trial and what the sentence will be.

“Everyone charged with a crime has the right to choose a jury or not,” Gibbons said. “Most people charged with a crime actually plead guilty — about 90 percent of them.”
It is important to note that while three strikes can present serious consequences for a felon, in the interest of justice, a judge may dismiss a strike.

Population explosion?

Is the three-strikes law causing a population explosion within many of our state prisons? Back in June of 2010, the California state prison population included 32,479 second-strikers and 8,647 third-strikers. Since “strike” sentences can by initiated by any felony conviction, a number of prisoners are serving lengthy life sentences for various nonviolent crimes like stolen property, petty theft and possession of a controlled substance. Since the law was passed in 1994, approximately 8,800 prisoners have been sentenced to life terms in California under the three-strikes law.

According Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS), excessive incarceration in America is a problem, and California is leading the parade with locking up more people than ever, especially with additional “tough-on-crime” laws. The result? FACTS said we are experiencing a “prison-building boom and rapacious bargaining” by the prison guards union, with state penitentiaries becoming the fastest-growing major cost in the state budget. The concerns have continued with consequential cutbacks on school and university funding, and the state’s recurring budget crisis.

Prison overcrowding is another concern, with the 2011 United States Supreme Court ruling that California must reduce its imprisoned population to reinstate humane conditions. With a population of 156,000, the prison population was nearly double the system’s capacity.


Because of severe overcrowding, prisons in California have to set up bunks in the gymnasiums in order to house all of the inmates.

The Stanford Three Strikes Project claims that approximately 9,000 inmates have been incarcerated for their third-strike crimes, and more than 4,000 inmates are serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates an average cost of $47,000 a year per inmate.

In his book Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela writes, “It is said that no one really knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” Because of overcrowding, inmates have continued to file lawsuits against prisons, claiming that prison overcrowding violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Along with overcrowding, there are other conditions that the courts have focused on, such as sanitation, safety and medical care provided by the correctional facility. Each prison is governed by either the federal government or the individual state, and guided by the American Correctional Association (ACA). For more than 135 years, the ACA has been the acknowledged authority in establishing measurable standards in prison supervision and providing certification of facilities after a scrupulous audit and review of proof of practice for conformity.

In California, three prisons began the process of seeking accreditation from the ACA: The California State Prison – Sacramento, Central California Women’s Facility, and California State Prison – Solano. All three prisons met all 61 of the mandatory requirements. California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) intends to pursue accreditation for all of its facilities. The audits are scheduled to begin in February 2013.

“The accreditation of all CDCR facilities will ensure we achieve our goal of modeling correctional leadership and complying with national best practices,” said CDCR Undersecretary Terri McDonald.

It’s complicated

With some of the largest correctional institutions in America, there is no doubt that we have woven a tangled web here in California, and now realignment will move tens of thousands of prisoners who are considered low risk into county jails. If an inmate is on good behavior, he or she will be given the chance to serve only half of his or her sentence as opposed to the required two-thirds.

According to FACTS, “Inmates already doing time in a state prison will stay there, but since October, anybody in California who commits a new crime that is non-serious, nonviolent and nonsexual (or “non-non-non”) has been sent to a county jail instead of prison.”

A study by the California Department of Corrections found that third-strikers jailed for non-serious, nonviolent crimes were the least dangerous inmates. According to Romano, “Giving them a way out of jail would leave more room for higher-risk inmates.”

Growing concerns

Has the three-strikes law actually discouraged crime? Based on Parker’s study, The Los Angeles Times said the law is “costly and ineffective” and further claimed that it has “done nothing to deter crime despite expanding the state’s prison population.” The former state parole chairman, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), disagreed with the study’s findings and believes the three-strikes law has been successful.

Many of those who oppose the reformed three-strikes law are concerned with issues like violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, criminals being allowed to plea-bargain their first two convictions, the law interfering with the flexibility of the courts and the judges, and the law adding more criminals to an overcrowded and expensive prison system.

Those in favor of the amendment believe it will address a flawed judicial system, where too many nonviolent and non-serious offenders stay in prison. The law offers an effectual deterrent after a second conviction, and the law applies only to three convictions, not marginal cases. Usually, when the three strikes law is applied, it affects those who have actually committed more than three crimes.

In its purest form, the three-strikes law is primarily about deterrence. When this law first came into play, it was a response to several high-profile murders committed by ex-felons. The most notorious case was the kidnapping and strangling of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in 1993. With current issues like overcrowding and the high cost of housing an inmate, it seems as though a modification is in order. Last month a Field Poll was taken in California addressing its prison-overcrowding problem. The poll confirmed that 79 percent of those surveyed believed the matter to be serious. According to the Committee for Three Strikes Reform, “Most California voters see a court order to reduce the state prison population by 30,000 inmates as a serious problem, and nearly three out of four say it’s time to revamp the state’s three-strikes law.”

Original Article: http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/?id=10092


Violent and serious felonies according to California statutesVIOLENT FELONIES

Murder or manslaughter.

Mayhem.

Rape by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Lewd act on a child.

Any felony punishable by death or life sentence.

Any felony resulting in great bodily injury or in which a firearm was used.

Robbery of an inhabited dwelling, vessel or trailer coach in which a deadly or dangerous weapon was used.

Arson that causes great bodily injury.

Penetration by a foreign object.

Attempted murder.

Explosion with intent to commit murder.

Out-of-state kidnapping transported to California.

Continuous sexual abuse of a child.

SERIOUS FELONIES

Murder or involuntary manslaughter.

Mayhem.

Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Lewd or lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 years.

Any felony punishable by death or imprisonment for life.

Any other felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person or personally uses a firearm.

Attempted murder.

Assault with intent to commit rape or robbery.

Assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer.

Assault by a life prisoner on a non-inmate.

Assault with a deadly weapon by an inmate.

Arson.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive causing great bodily injury or mayhem.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to murder.

Burglary of an inhabited dwelling, house or trailer coach as defined by the Vehicle Code or inhabited portion of any other building.

Robbery or bank robbery.

Kidnapping.

Holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison.

Attempt to commit a felony punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon selling, furnishing, administering, giving or offering to sell, furnish administer or give to a minor, heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), a methamphetamine-related drug, or a precursor of methamphetamine.

Any violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289 where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Grand theft involving a firearm.

Any attempt to commit a crime listed in this subdivision other than an assault.
Continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Taken from http://www.threestrikes.org/tscrimes.html.

Screenwriters and Actors Collaborate Online

In 2010, Guy Goldstein, a screenwriter and program developer from Santa Barbara, California created ReadThrough.com.  “A buddy of mine wanted me to read his script, and I just didn’t have the time to sit down and do it.  One day, while I was stuck in LA traffic I found myself wishing I had a way to listen to the screenplay.  I went  home that night and created this program,” says Goldstein.

After 2 years ReadThrough.com is revolutionizing the script read-through and sharing process.  Reading a script is not always easy, but with this program, it becomes a pleasure instead of an inconvenience.

Often, I have heard producers say, “I wish there were more hours in the day.  I just don’t have the time to read through all of these scripts.”  Well, this program helps elevate that issue.  Imagine being able to listen to a script while driving, traveling or just while going for a walk.

Whether you are a writer, a producer looking for a new project, an agent, or an actor wanting to rehearse the dialogue on a script, ReadThrough.com makes the process much easier.  You can virtually listen to a script from anywhere!  Mp3’s can be downloaded, notes can be added and you can share the read-through with others.  In addition, a writer can communicate the storyline with background music, sound effects and images.  When casting parts, writers can readily search a database of actors and ask them to perform specific parts.

For actors, the computer acts as a scene partner by performing cues and pausing for the actor to deliver his or her lines.  Actors can also download the scene or script as an mp3 and rehearse it anywhere!  Additional features include:  public actor profiles, voice acting in real performances, voice-overs and more.”

Screenwriters are told to read their scripts out-loud, and part of the reason is because a screenplay is a spoken/acted, visual medium.  So, it is very important to hear the way dialogue sounds and how it relates to the development of the storyline and the main characters.

ReadThrough.com supports PDF files, Final Draft 8, Celt, Microsoft Word, Text and more.  It gives screenwriters and actors a quick and easy way to bring scripts to life through computer read-through rehearsals, script sharing, and hosting screenwriter and actor profiles.

How about that ending?

How about that ending?.