Justia Verdict posts commentary by Paula Mitchell, "California’s Death Penalty: A Year in Review." She's a career federal judicial law clerk for Senior Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcón on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She writes extensively on capital issues.
Here's the beginning:
On November 6, 2012, California voters narrowly defeated Proposition 34, a measure that would have replaced the state’s death penalty with the sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) as the state’s most severe punishment. Prop 34 failed to pass by about 250,000 votes.
Opponents of Prop 34 used a classic political technique to defeat the measure: fear mongering. They told voters that “instead of justice, killers [would] get lifetime housing/healthcare benefits” if Prop 34 passed. Voters were urged to keep the current system of capital punishment in place to “Protect California.” They convinced voters that the death penalty was needed to punish people like “Richard ‘The Night Stalker’ Ramirez [who] kidnapped, raped, tortured and mutilated 14 people and terrorized 11 more including children and senior citizens.”
The voters were duped. On June 17, 2013, after nearly a quarter of a century on death row at great expense to taxpayers, Richard Ramirez died peacefully at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California, where he was receiving treatment for B-cell lymphoma.
For the last 35 years, California taxpayers have funded the state’s so-called “death penalty” to the tune of over $4 billion. Since voters decided to continue funding the state’s sham death penalty system last November, the situation has continued to deteriorate.
Earlier commentary from Mitchell begins at the link.