Sunday, September 16, 2012

"The death penalty in California is a farce…."

If anyone who comes by here is still wondering why I am working to pass Prop. 34 -- the California initiative to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole -- they don't have to believe me. Just take a look at the five part series that ran last week in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, culminating in this editorial endorsement:

Voters should approve Prop. 34, for all the reasons we've laid out in editorials this week.

The death penalty in California is a farce. It isn't being carried out with any consistency or equal application across counties. Proponents have spent decades trying to speed up executions, including creating a Habeas Corpus Resource Center in 1998.

Even so, California has executed only 13 condemned murderers since 1992, when executions resumed after the reinstatement of the death penalty. During that time, 84 inmates have died on death row, leaving 729 awaiting an execution that, for most them, is sure to never come.

Even if California could somehow speed up executions, there is no evidence nationally that capital punishment serves as a deterrent to violent crime. There is evidence, however, that judges and juries have occasionally convicted the wrong person of a capital crime, resulting in an innocent person being sent to death row and even executed. ...

The whole series is worth reading; the Bee had supported capital punishment for 155 years prior to this re-examination.

The Bee illustrated its series with this cartoon, perhaps the most cogent presentation of what the Prop. 34 campaign is trying to replace that I've seen anywhere:

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