Jerry Brown came to the Chronicle editorial board where he made a compelling
argument as to why 2 competing tax measures vying for the November ballot
should be scrapped so that his measure can stand a better chance of passing. I
used the occasion to ask Brown about the death penalty in California. Brown, a
former Attorney General, said that there are no innocent inmates on
California’s death row.
Here’s the exchange.
Jerry Brown visits the Chronicle.
In a debate with Meg Whitman in 2010, Brown promised to make the death penalty
work in California. I asked him: Is it?
“It’s working according to the Constitution to the United States, I can tell
you that. That requires highly competent counsel and expert witnesses to be
hired and all the rest of it. So if you want to talk about the death penalty,
you know the history, my father executed 35 people. Since that time, 14 people
have been executed. And there’s a certain buildup of responsibilities. The
Chief Justice said if you want to make it faster, you’ve got to get more money.
I have not chosen to ask for the sums maybe the Chief Justice had in mind
because quite frankly, I’m focusing on this.”
How will Brown vote on the inititiative to scrap California’s death penalty?
“I’m not prepared to talk about that today. I have plenty of time to mull that
Has Brown considered naming a panel to look at death row and recommend any
cases deserving of a commutation?
“I don’t think we need a panel. There’s plenty of lawyers around that if they
feel there’s such a case, they’re going to let me know about it.” And: “As
Attorney General, I think the representation was good. I think people have
gotten exquisite due process in the state of California. It goes on for 20 or
25 years and to think that they’ve missed anything like they have in some other
states, I have not seen any evidence of it. None. I know people say, ‘Oh, there
have been all these innocent people,’ Well, I have not seen one name on death
row that’s been told to me.”
Brown did say that if he heard any complaints, it was that “the place leaks and
I should spend another $450 million to fix it. I decided not to.”
To recap: Brown is a well-known opponent of the death penalty and he says there
are no innocent inmates on California’s death row. Remember that the next time
you hear otherwise.
(source: Column, Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)