Proposition 34 repeals the death penalty as maximum punishment for persons convicted of 1st degree murder with special circumstances and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It applies retroactively to individuals already sentenced to death.
Plenty of studies have demonstrated the deterrent effect of the death penalty. Even common sense will help you to understand the difference between crime and consequence. If you have an extreme consequence or punishment for a particular crime then you are less likely to find someone moving in that direction. Statistics show that when executions are up in a given year, first degree murder goes down the following year.
The death penalty is a powerful negotiating tool. There is a character named John Gardner. He murdered two girls in San Diego a couple of years ago. The first victim was a 14-year-old named Amber Dubois who disappeared while walking to school. The second victim was Chelsea King, a high school junior who was murdered while she was out on a run. Gardner was arrested for the murder of Chelsea King and told that he would face the death penalty. He then told the authorities that if they took the death penalty off of the table he would divulge the whereabouts of Amber Dubois. I can assure you that Amber’s remains never would have been located otherwise. This is an instance where the death penalty was used as a tool to bring finality to the family of a missing child and a community gripped by the thought of a homicidal predator in their midst.
Under Prop 34, persons found guilty of 1st degree murder must work while in prison with their wages subject to deductions applied to victim restitution. Prop 34 proponents say that expenses related to murder trials, death penalty appeals and corrections could result in about $100-million annual savings. The whole idea that they are going to save all of this money by integrating death row inmates into the general population and putting them to work is preposterous.
First of all, it is already the law that prisoners are supposed to work and pay victim restitution. But the idea that you are going to give the Nightstalker, or Ramon Salcido a wrench or screwdriver would send chills down the spine of the most hardened criminal. To suggest that these killing machines will integrate into the general population is absurd. No prisoner will want to share a cell, let alone a cell block, with a cop killer, baby killer, serial killer or mass murderer. They and the prison guards will be at great risk under these circumstances. Death row inmates live in single cells now and they will remain in segregated, single cells in Prop 34 passes because they are an extremely violent and dangerous population.
Proponents say that the death penalty is broken beyond repair, but it is not. If Governor Brown signed an executive order allowing for a one drug protocol as Ohio, Washington and 5-other states have done we can begin executing the 30-death row inmates who have run out their appeals tomorrow. Currently only 100 lawyers out of a population of 171,000 practicing lawyers on California are qualified to handle the direct death penalty appeal. We can clear this backlog by training more lawyers to handle this procedure. Currently, the direct death penalty appeal must be heard by the 7-member California Supreme Court. If we divert that process to the 107-member California Court of Appeals, then we can remove that burden and speed up the process. If we limit frivolous Habeas Corpus appeals we can further streamline the process. If it’s broken, mend it, don’t end it.
Supposedly, evidence shows that more than 100 innocent people have been sentenced to death in the United States, and some have been executed. Proponents say that if Prop 34 passes we will never execute an innocent person. Guess what, we haven’t executed an innocent person. In fact, Governor Brown, who has a history of opposing the death penalty, says that he is sure that there are no innocent people on California’s death row. Many of the so-called innocent that have been exonerated have been removed from death row for administrative rather than evidentiary reasons. There is no proof that an innocent person has been executed in the United States. That is simply a myth perpetuated by liberal media and death row apologists.
Let’s not send a message that it doesn’t matter how heinous your behavior, how many victims you pile up or how many cops you execute, you will not be executed. Join me in voting NO on Proposition 34 on Election Day.