California should end its miserably inefficient death penalty system and replace it with life without the possibility of parole.
Since California voters reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state has spent more than $4 billion on death penalty cases and executed 13 prisoners.
About 700 prisoners languish on California's death row. Some have been there more than 34 years. The leading cause of death at San Quentin is old age.
Replacing the death penalty with an ironclad guarantee that the bad guys will be locked up for life would save billions of dollars and end a practice that many Californians consider inhumane.
We should join 16 states, the District of Columbia and 139 countries that have banned capital punishment. Our judicial system should not be in the business of killing people. The era of “an eye for an eye” should come to an end.
Movements are under way on 2 fronts to bring this to a vote in November.
Catholic Bishops of California is pushing an initiative that would take this step, making arguments based on faith and potential savings. The measure would dedicate $100 million from the savings to local law enforcement to solve murder cases.
State Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat, has introduced Senate Bill 490, which would replace the death penalty with permanent incarceration. It is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee suspense file. A spokeswoman said the senator awaits the progress of the initiative before deciding whether to move forward.
A question of methods
The last California execution was in January 2006 by lethal injection. In 2006, U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel blocked the next execution because, he ruled, if the three-drug injection were administered incorrectly, it could lead to suffering in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
The execution of Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. -- convicted of sexual molestation of a minor, 2 counts of rape and the murder of a child in Riverside -- was scheduled in September 2010. But as Fogel was reviewing case, the state's supply of one of the three drugs expired.
(source: Editorial, Salinas California)