Today's Woodland Daily Democrat publishes the editorial, "Death penalty and Three Strikes laws unfair and costly."
Just in time for next week's vote on ending the death penalty, a new report finds that California leads the nation in exonerations for wrongful convictions. If voters weren't already persuaded to vote yes on Proposition 34 for financial or moral reasons, perhaps this will seal the deal.
Eighteen states have repealed the death penalty in favor of life in prison with no chance of parole. A number of them acted after DNA evidence exonerated death row inmates, prompting chilling reflections on what likely has happened in the past. California voters should make it 19 by approving Proposition 34.
The Santa Barbara Independent publishes Tom Parker's OpEd, "True Permanent Imprisonment." He's a former California police officer and FBI agent.
As a retired 40-year law enforcement and criminal justice professional, including 24 years in the FBI, I strongly support California’s Proposition 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole (true permanent imprisonment). While some of my professional law enforcement brethren disagree with me, the path to making this state safer is clear – stop wasting billions of dollars on the dysfunctional death penalty system, and put that money into more police officers and other local law-enforcement efforts to go after the epidemic of unsolved crimes.
"Yes on Prop 34: Replace the Death Penalty with Life without Parole," is by Robert Garcia for KCET-TV,
I am a former federal prosecutor, having served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York under John Martin and Rudy Giuliani, prosecuting public corruption, organized crime, white collar, narcotics conspiracies, and other complex criminal cases. I have also defended two innocent men who served years in prison for murders they did not commit before their convictions were reversed by the courts. If the death penalty had been imposed, the state would have killed each man before he could prove his conviction and sentence were miscarriages of justice.
One man was the late Geronimo Pratt, the former Black Panther leader who served 27 years in prison in California for a murder he did not commit.
"The pro and con of repealing death penalty in California," is from the Los Angeles Daily News. "Pro: No one gets out alive," is by Marshall Thompson.
I executed people for the state of California because it was my job. I support Proposition 34 because I am a law enforcement professional committed to public safety.
During 27 years with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, I was directly involved in carrying out the state's orders to put four men to death. For what would have been my fifth execution - one that didn't happen - I was the team leader.
As a peace officer, a citizen and a taxpayer, I want public safety to be California's priority when it spends our money. The more than $130 million that we spend on the death penalty every year does not keep our families any safer. What we need to do is to investigate unsolved homicides and rapes. Right now we know that 46 percent of homicides in California go unsolved. Putting our faith in the death penalty makes absolutely no sense when each year we have over 1,000 killers in California who are not even apprehended.
Over my many years in San Quentin I learned that the death penalty is not only a horrendous waste of money, but that it is not a deterrent.
When the Bible commands us "Justice, justice shall you pursue," the repetition is to teach that not only we must have just ends, our means to those ends must be equally just.
Our commitment to that core teaching will be tested next month by our community's response to Proposition 34, which would replace California's death penalty with life in prison without parole, save $130 million each year, devote $30 millon per year for three years to help solve unsolved murders and rapes and require those convicted of murder to devote prison earnings to pay restitution to the families of their victims.
During Yom Kippur, congregants at Kehillat Israel had the profound privilege of hearing Franky Carrillo, a remarkable young man who was released from prison after serving 20 years for a murder he didn't commit. The stark reality of how unjust his fate could have been while we still have the death penalty couldn't help but send shivers down the spines of the congregation.
Alexandra Gross writes a must-read essay, "My Childhood Pen-Pal Was an Innocent Man on Death Row," for Huffington Post. She's an Investigative Researcher for the National Registry of Exonerations.
Last spring, my friend Paris Carriger was diagnosed with liver disease and told he had just a few months to live. His voice from the hospital was weak but calm. "This isn't the first time I've been sentenced to die," he said with a raspy chuckle, "though I don't expect I'll beat this one."
My lifelong friendship with an innocent man on death row means that I have always been deeply opposed to the death penalty. I talk to people about it a lot these days with Proposition 34 and I urge them to vote "yes." Those who favor it often say it's too slow and expensive. I always think: "If we had a quick cheap death penalty, Paris would have been killed."
Unfortunately, Paris didn't live long enough to find out whether we will replace the death penalty in California. He died on May 21, at home with Sherrie, the woman he fell in love with and married several years after his release. The hospice workers said they had never seen anyone accept the end of life with such calm grace. Given how close he came to being executed for a crime he didn't commit, I can imagine that dying at home was, in a sense, a victory.
"Fiscal conservatives should oppose death penalty," is Bruce Maiman's OpEd in the Sacramento Bee.
The oft-cited 2011 study by a federal judge and a Loyola law professor found that since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978, California has spent $4 billion on our capital punishment system. Divided by the 13 inmates we've executed over those four-plus decades, we've spent $308 million per execution.
The study was updated just last month. California now spends $184 million annually on the death penalty and the authors say that based on data over the past year, maintaining it for another four decades will cost taxpayers as much as $7 billion.
That's just to fund the current model, sans reforms. Spending an additional $96 million annually, as a 2008 state panel noted, would sufficiently fund the courts to assure death row inmates every available constitutionally protected resource to expedite the appeals process, but that would cost taxpayers another $4 billion atop the $7 billion projected for sustaining our current system through 2050.
Earlier coverage from California begins with the preceding post.