News in Brief: Employees Bearing Higher Portion of Health Insurance Costs, and More

Employees Bearing Higher Portion of Health Insurance Costs

As companies continue to pay for about three-quarters of workers’ health care premiums, an annual survey has found that employees are bearing a larger brunt of health insurance costs than last year. The Wall Street Journal reported the acceleration of a trend that has been on the rise for years, with companies struggling to cut costs and either reducing benefits or making workers pay for them. The survey found employees pay an average of about $4,000 out of pocket toward coverage for their entire family this year, a jump of 14 percent from last year.

Court Reverses Conviction for Arizona Man Helping Migrants

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has tossed out the conviction of an Arizona man who left water jugs in the desert for migrants two years after a magistrate in Arizona found Daniel Millis guilty of littering. Millis is part of the aid group No More Deaths, who regularly help migrants by offering them food, water and medical aid, reported The AP.

New Mexico Fails to Punish Prisons

The New Mexico Corrections Department has failed to collect penalties from two private prison operators despite their repeated violations of contracts, in a move that is costing the state millions of dollars in uncollected fines, The New Mexico Independent reported. State lawmakers are questioning New Mexico Corrections Secretary Joe Williams decision not to collect penalties from GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, two of the largest private prison contractors. The companies have violated their obligation to keep a certain level of staff at their for-profit facilities.

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Ohio Governor Commutes Death Sentence; California Plans to Go Ahead With Lethal Injection Despite Court Moratorium

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has commuted the death sentence of Kevin Keith, who says he is innocent of a 1994 shooting that killed three people. Strickland says Keith is likely guilty of the killings, but raised questions about the evidence used to convict Keith, particularly eyewitness testimony that wasn’t fully investigated. The decision overrides last month’s ruling by Keith’s parole board, unanimously recommending against clemency, The AP reported.

Meanwhile, despite a court moratorium on lethal injections, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is gearing up for the September 29 execution of an inmate convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl. In 2006, a federal judge placed a permanent injunction on executions by lethal injection in California, citing numerous problems with the state’s death chamber and method of executing prisoners, reported Southern California Public Radio. In response, prison officials spent million on a new death chamber at San Quentin Correctional Facility. The Department of Corrections insists the judge’s execution order requires prison officials to prepare Albert Greenwood Brown for death, but legal experts say the executions cannot lawfully be carried out.