"Even Richard Ramirez dodged California's death penalty," is the Los Angeles Daily News editorial. It's available as, "California's death penalty is dead," in the Reporter.
Richard Ramirez is dead. The serial killer dubbed the Night Stalker was the face of evil for many Southern Californians. And he was the face of something else -- the futility of this state's system of capital punishment.
Ramirez was 25 when he was captured in 1985. He was 53 when he died Friday morning at San Quentin State Prison. So he lived most of his life with the death penalty hanging over him but never getting even that sterile version of the satanic horror he perpetrated on 13 murder victims.
The system itself was on Death Row last November when California voters considered Proposition 34, which would have ended the death penalty in the state and converted the sentences of Death Row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The argument, a good one, was that it was costing the state more than $100 million a year on legal battles and Death Row incarceration.
Yet since the state resumed executions in 1992, only 13 condemned convicts have actually been put to death, while more than 700 others continue to sit in prison; as of last fall, 84 Death Row inmates had died of natural causes.
Voters defeated Proposition 34, and the death penalty survived -- though, in name only.
"Initiative supporters want to bring California death penalty back to life," is by Neil Nisperos of Inland Newspapers. It's via the Contra Costa Times.
Frustrated by a recent appeals court ruling that invalidates the state's lethal injection procedures, supporters of the death penalty in California plan to launch a campaign to bring the suspended system back to life.
Death penalty supporters hope to circumvent legal challenges to executions through a new initiative that would put in place a single-drug injection procedure for inmates condemned to death, such as the infamous Night Stalker serial killer Richard Ramirez, who died Friday of natural causes.
Advocates of the single-injection protocol seek to avoid supply and legal issues related to the triple-drug protocol used prior to a 2006 moratorium on the death penalty. The ballot initiative would also reform the appellate process to ensure executions for Death Row inmates who have exhausted all appeals and where questions of guilt don't exist.
The proposed initiative would be carried by a coalition of law enforcement, district attorneys, and death penalty proponents who opposed Proposition 34 in the 2012 statewide election. That measure, defeated by 52 percent of voters, would have abolished the death penalty and replaced it with life in prison without parole.
Earlier coverage from California begins at the link.