Today's Riverside Press-Democrat publishes the editorial, "Taking the next step on death penalty."
California’s death penalty law is badly flawed, but voters aren’t prepared to give up on it.
The Nov. 6 election told us that. What it didn’t tell us, however, is whether voters are willing to do what it takes to make capital punishment work.
Voters delivered a split verdict on criminal-justice measures: They repealed the harshest aspects of the three strikes law while approving stricter penalties for human trafficking and reaffirming their support for capital punishment.
There are remedies, but they require public support and, in some cases, voter approval.
The biggest obstacle to speedy executions — and the most common source of public complaints — is a lengthy appeals process. Appeals can’t be eliminated; they’re a constitutional requirement.
However, inmates now wait five years or more before a state public defender is appointed to review their case. Hiring more public defenders would speed up the process, and it’s a step the Legislature can take on its own. But there’s little political benefit to spending scarce tax dollars on Death Row inmates while other programs are getting cut.
The Stockton Record editorial is, "Going nowhere fast."
The ballot measure to end California's death penalty failed by a 52 to 48 percent vote.
Fine. Californians have spoken. But the vote doesn't alter the fact that unless things change we'll continue to do the same things over and over and over again.
That is to say nothing will change.
Know this: The Record is not opposed to the death penalty. There are criminals so reprehensible they forfeit their right to even be classified human.
What we oppose is waste, and that's what this state has been doing for decades. The death penalty since 1978 has cost California taxpayers $4 billion, according to a 2011 study by federal appeals Judge Arthur Alarcon and his law clerk Paula Mitchell, a professor at Loyola Law School.
That $4 billion equals the annual salary of roughly 59,000 California teachers.
Since 1978 the state has executed 13 men, which equates to $300 million per execution, or roughly the annual salary of 4,400 teachers.
It's crazy to spend that kind of money for essentially nothing. It's even crazier in a state with the kind of financial problems California faces.
Earlier coverage from California begins at the link.