Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A good week for Prop. 34

Momentum is building in the campaign to replace California's death penalty with justice that works. We've had a good couple of weeks as we work to pass Prop. 34.


First, the California Labor Federation included Prop. 34 among its endorsements. We're talking about a lot of people here:

The California Labor Federation is made up of more than 1,200 AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions, representing 2.1 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries.

That endorsement is even more gratifying as this year organized labor is in an electoral fight for its own life -- and the lives of all of us who depend on labor to support the best of our values. A deceptive initiative -- Prop. 32 -- aims to fool Californians by masquerading as “stopping special interests” while actually it would prevent unions from standing up for workers and would give even more voice to the wealthy one percent in elections.

Then over the weekend, the California Democratic Party gave its approval to Prop. 34. The party of Barack Obama and Jerry Brown has our back.

And today, the San Jose Mercury News explained why it supports Prop. 34. Here's an excerpt:

California's death penalty is archaic, unfairly applied and fiscally insane. More than 135 nations have abolished capital punishment, and the list of those that still use it is a who's who of human rights' abusers: Iraq, Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Sudan, for starters. Oh, and us.

This fall voters should make California the 18th state to repeal the death penalty in favor of life in prison with no chance of parole. Vote yes on Proposition 34.

… Death penalty supporters argue that the lengthy appeals that run up public costs should be cut short or ended. That works in barbaric nations that immediately execute prisoners. But it doesn't deal with a major reason other states have abolished the death penalty: increasing evidence that innocent people have been executed. More than 100 inmates have been freed from death row nationwide in the past 35 years. California has had none so far, but with more than 700 prisoners on death row and improving forensic techniques, the likelihood of finding errors is ever more likely. Why not just lock people away for life?

Guilt or innocence aside, it's clear that the death penalty is unfairly applied in California. A county-by-county study of death sentences from 2000-07 found residents of Alameda County nearly eight times more likely to be sentenced to death than residents of Santa Clara County. Blacks in California are sentenced to death at a rate five times higher than their proportion of the population.

The paper lays out a strong case. Go read the whole thing.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The arguments in support of the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and erroneous. The Act would only make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials, significantly increase the costs to taxpayers due to life-time medical costs, the increased security required to coerce former death-row inmates to work, etc. The amount “saved” in order to help fund law enforcement is negligible and only for a short period of time. Bottom line, the “SAFE” Act is an attempt by those who are responsible for the high costs and lack of executions to now persuade voters to abandon it on those ground. Obviously, these arguments would disappear if the death penalty was carried forth in accordance with the law. Get the facts at and supporting evidence at http://cadeathpenalty.webs.com.

janinsanfran said...

Some people are unable to see the facts about the death penalty because, for whatever reason, they are unable to accept that we have adopted a dysfunctional, broken, expensive and generally useless public policy. Unless we are willing to kill people without giving them a full chance to make their cases, we cannot fix California's death penalty. And so long as we keep the death penalty, we can never be sure California is not executing an innocent person.

I find the choice easy: Yes on 34.

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