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Vote No on Proposition 34

Don't be fooled by phony arguments and fake statistics: if the death penalty is broken, mend it, don’t end it.

My daughter Polly’s killer has been on death row since 1996. This November, California voters will be asked to overturn his sentence and the death sentences of 724 other serial killers, baby killers, cop killers and mass murderers. Of those, 126 involved torture before murder, 173 killed children and 44 murdered police officers. Proposition 34 will appear on California’s ballot to retroactively outlaw the death penalty in favor of life without the possibility of parole.

Proposition 34 is being led by so-called abolitionists associated with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who claim that we should abolish the death penalty because it’s broken. Ironically, they point to today’s administrative bottlenecks, many of which they themselves created over the years, as justification. They believe that voters will be fooled into approving an initiative that will reward evil scum under the guise of alleged cost saving.

The true solution is more simple: If the death penalty is broken, mend it, don’t end it.

First, adopt one standard drug for executions. Several states, including Ohio, Washington and Arizona, use a constitutionally-valid single drug for executions. Since 2009, Ohio has conducted 14 executions using this method. Executions in California, however, have been delayed because death penalty opponents endlessly file appeals claiming the current three-drug method is unconstitutional because it may be “cruel and unusual.” The final 10 minutes of a remorseless killer’s life are not legitimate grounds to delay the death penalty.

Second, Prop. 34 supporters assert that the final appeals process and the death penalty itself is too expensive for the state to maintain. Yet there is no objective data that the elimination of the death penalty will save money. The studies relied upon by death penalty opponents were created based on their own data and their credibility is highly questionable. The only unbiased study to determine the true cost was done by the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan organization that aims to improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND found there was no objective data available to give a true estimate of the costs of the death penalty.

There certainly is no question that the automatic appeals process is arduous and burdensome. Over the years, there have been many legislative and constitutional efforts to fix this problem. Retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George endorsed a constitutional amendment to allow appeals courts to hear such appeals, which would significantly reduce costs and delays. Other recommendations have been to modify and limit the time for filing certain types of appeals and to require defense attorneys to take appeals. Currently, California has more than 175,000 practicing attorneys, yet only about 100 are qualified to represent automatic appeals.

Unfortunately, elected officials who advocate on behalf of death row inmates never allow those legislative changes to see the light of day. On April 17, I testified before the state senate public safety committee on two measures that would have streamlined the process. Senate Bill 1514 would have eliminated the automatic appeal in cases, like Polly’s, where guilt was never in doubt. It was defeated by a straight party vote. Senate Constitutional Amendment 20 (SCA 20) would have amended the California constitution so that appeals of death penalty cases would go to the California Court of Appeals instead of the California Supreme Court. Our 105 Appeals Court justices would be able to rule on many more death penalty appeals than the seven Supreme Court justices, greatly easing the backlog. SCA 20 was defeated because it would cost too much.

The death penalty has historically been supported by a majority of Californians. The law of the land and the will of the people have been subverted by administrative shenanigans, frivolous appeals, endless delays and moral bankruptcy. The very individuals and organizations that have created a broken system in California now want the voters to legitimize their misanthropic actions.

California’s Proposition 34 mocks our system of crime and punishment as it attempts to give our worst criminals the very thing that they denied their victims: the right to live their lives in safety and die in peace.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Grasha July 17, 2012 at 09:52 PM
An excellent piece Marc and I salute you for you tireless work in trying to keep kids safe! http://deathpenaltycalifornia.com/
Kell July 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM
When I first read about Prop 34 I was outraged. Yes the system is flawed, but to just get rid of it is NOT the answer. I can think of plenty of other ways to fix it such as limiting appeals or making the process faster. It disgusts me that this even made it to the ballot. Thank you for your constant efforts to ensure a safer California!
Steve Tickes July 18, 2012 at 01:21 AM
How many people who are against the DEATH PENALTY have had someone murdered????????? I think these heaven-bound-liberals need too look toward Texas! If you have the DNA proof! 'Carry on Way word Solider '!
Albert Rubio July 18, 2012 at 03:44 AM
What does the death penalty accomplish? The answer is conspicuously missing. On the other hand what are the reasons against the death penalty? Both questions and answers are essential in order to make a rational decision.
Marc Klaas July 18, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Condemned killers want life without the possibility of parole. That is not punishment; it is a gift. They don’t understand the value of life and nothing drives that lesson home like the loss of life. I suspect they receive enlightenment as they take the dead man’s walk to their own execution. It came from Hell and the sooner it is returned to Hell the better off we will all be. They fantasize daily about murdering their victims. This is not fair to the victims. They deserve better. Life without the possibility of parole does not mean that the killer will never be released from prison. If the political climate or prison policy changes in the future, they might very well be released back into society to re-commit yet again. It has certainly happened before. By giving psychopathic killers life in prison, we are giving them a power usually reserved for God: The power over life and death. Thus, we admit that they are more powerful than we are. If condemning killers to death is beneath the morals and standards of civilized society and is considered barbaric, why do we send innocent young men overseas to die in war for the freedom of foreign lands? Why is America the biggest arms dealer in the world? Why is research into nuclear weapons still allowed? In a just society the punishment must fit the crime. The death penalty is a deterrent. Bundy, Dahmer & Gacy will never victimize again, for they have been deterred. Two words: Timothy McVeigh.
Kell July 18, 2012 at 09:03 PM
What does leaving these people in prison for life accomplish? They didn't spare their victims. Those who receive the death penalty do not receive it for minor crimes. These are brutal killings. Charles Manson was given the death penalty and then due to a change in the law it was changed to life in prison. This state has spent tons of money keeping that man alive and providing him with an attorney who at his last parole hearing he refused to meet with and then he didn't even show for his own hearing. I for one do not want to see the same thing happen with those who are currently on death row.
Brenda July 18, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Marc, I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your beautiful daughter. As my own daughter was growing up I kept my front door locked night and day after hearing what happened to Polly. I can never truly understand the pain and grief you have experienced but I hope that one day you can find peace and your own enlightenment.
Albert Rubio July 19, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Such murderers "deserve" to die. I do not deny this. I also understand many people discussing this have lost their dearest ones. It is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. I understand and sympathize. I cannot imagine being such a victim. The only reason I speak however is because this is a public issue by nature and must be arrived at by objective reasons. I will outline briefly a different perspective: 1. It is because of the nature of the state, the monopoly of force, that it should not be given the power of putting people to death. 2. There is always the potential of sending innocent people to death. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone's_formulation "In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s." 3. Lastly, there is no evidence that the death penalty significantly deters crime or murder. Excellent Lecture on Classical Liberalism discusses death penalty: http://youtu.be/puusxNAkoe4?t=57m Therefore, lifting the death penalty is not based on what the guilty deserve, but on the overall protection of the society from abusive and excessive power of the state. such a view makes life in prison a preferred policy over state executions.
Albert Rubio July 19, 2012 at 05:59 AM
incidentally, the lecture is queued to the death penalty discussion for convenience. The Decline and Triumph of Classical Liberalism, Part 2 http://youtu.be/puusxNAkoe4?t=57m I only recently discovered these lectures. For an historical perspective of Classical Liberalism, Part 1 & 2 are the best lectures I've ever heard. In particular it gives a tremendous contrast to what society was like before Classical Liberalism, and how it was transformed by it to create the kind of world that many take for granted today.
Russel Jimmies July 23, 2012 at 06:40 PM
A whole bunch of people actually. http://www.mvfr.org/
Russel Jimmies July 23, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Firstly, Marc, I am very sorry about the loss of your daughter. I realize that I cannot understand the suffering you must go through daily. That being said, I do respectfully disagree. Pretend you're a soon-to-be murderer. Do you really sit down at a table and think: "Gee. If I kill these people, I could get the death penalty. I guess I won't kill them now." Chances are, you don't. If you've decided to kill someone, you probably don't have a very stable mindset; questions like that probably aren't on your mind. (Also, here's some data showing lower murder rates in non DP states: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates) Can you give an example of someone with life w/o the possibility of parole getting out and killing again? A lot of people assume that people against the death penalty are soft regarding crime. This isn't true at all. If there was a proposition on the ballot years from now, asking whether we should abolish life w/o parole, I would vote a resounding no on that proposal, as would many other Prop 34 supporters. As for your other points, I agree that the US needs to get out of foreign wars, should stop selling weapons at our current pace and that we don't realistically need nukes. If you agree that these are problems, then according to your own arguments you would agree that capital punishment is a problem as well.
Nunya bizznez July 30, 2012 at 06:38 AM
I.dnt understand y they r even still alive they should have been put ti death along time ago the prisons are outta space and spending our money on these losers they should all die to bad they werent on the main line cuz they woulda alraedy be murdered but they wanna make sure they pretect them lowlifes where wasvthe protection when the victims werein danger eating doughnuts i say if u dnt wanna kill em let them walk.the main line one time some we can have justice

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