When my aunt was murdered by her own son, my cousin Manuel, the local DA pushed
for a death sentence against my family's wishes. I know what it’s like when a
DA just doesn’t listen.
Now, District Attorneys are turning a deaf ear on California voters. Even
though SAFE California submitted more than enough signatures to qualify for the
November ballot, each and every day, 58 District Attorneys continue to wield
the power of death sentences in every county across California.
That’s why I’m speaking out to urge every California District Attorney to stop
seeking death sentences until voters can decide for themselves this November.
I first heard about my aunt’s murder while watching the evening news in
Spanish. Manuel was in the midst of a psychotic break related to a terrible
illness. But we never got the sympathetic calls that we expected from
authorities. Instead, we got a low blow from a DA who wanted the death penalty.
We couldn’t afford a private attorney so we worked day and night alongside
public defenders. Eventually the obvious became clear to everyone -- including
the DA -- and Manuel was sentenced to spend the rest of his life locked up. It
may sound strange, but that was a gift for my family.
This November, the people of California should have the same opportunity to
choose real justice over the death penalty's hollow promise. In the meantime, I
hope you'll join me to ask California’s District Attorneys to hear voters out
before seeking any more death sentences.
Death penalty trials re-open deep wounds for families like mine with court
dates, autopsy photos, and reenactments. More often than not, cases end with an
inmate’s death from old age or natural causes even after families are forced to
revisit terrible events and even if a family does not want it. It’s just not
Life in prison without the possibility of parole offers real justice for
victims -- justice that is sure and swift. Trials with a sentence of life
without parole are over in a matter of months. SAFE California also requires
inmates to work in high-security prison and to pay restitution into a victims’
compensation fund. And it sets aside $100 million in budget savings to solve
some of the many unsolved rape and murder cases and to protect our families.
The people of California will decide on November 6, 2012 whether to keep the
hollow promise of our broken death penalty, or replace it with life in prison
with no chance of parole. California's DAs must listen.
Deldelp's aunt was murdered by her own son, Deldelp's first cousin. Deldelp is
now the Northern California Outreach Coordinator for California Crime Victims
for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and a spokesperson for the SAFE
California campaign to replace the death penalty with life in prison without
(source: California Progress Report)