(Scott Shafer/KQED)

Former California governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis are backing a proposed ballot initiative to streamline the death penalty process. The proposal would put a five-year limit on death penalty appeals and make other changes to the way the state manages condemned prisoners. Opponents say the measure would lead to more expensive legal battles and increase the chances that an innocent person could be put to death.

Guests:
Gray Davis, former governor of California
Gil Garcetti, former district attorney for Los Angeles County
Mark Peterson, district attorney for Contra Costa County
Ellen Kreitzberg, professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of the Death Penalty College, which trains lawyers to handle death penalty cases

  • Guest

    Shouldn’t these ex-governors be more interested in finding ways to pay off California’s debts, or to make California more affordable, or to prevent people entering the criminal world by bringing manufacturing jobs back from the sweatshops of Asia?

    This killing fixation of theirs is what we can expect from a political class that is eager to satisfy big business — they talk up topics that are low priority for the People, because behind the scenes their priority is to help corporations screw over the People.

    I’d bet money they’re pushing this death row thing because they’ve become lobbyists for some corporation that will gain from it.

    Politicians are whóres
    Corporations are johns
    The state senate house is a bróthel.
    And lobbyists are pímps
    And they all have wonderful LinkedIn profiles.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Aside from the fact we have to many people in prison for non violent crimes would someone please explain why states that have done away with the death penalty, have the lowest crime rates or at least the lowest number of crimes that would have warranted the death penalty?

    And what about the people who have to do the killing? This has to have an effect on their mental health. Back in the 90’s I read a book about executioners from some southern state, which noted their high rate of alcoholism and depression.

  • Livegreen

    Democrats & Republicans are refusing to refinance the Courts after the recession and it is undermining our justice system, no matter whose POV.

    As for the cost of Death Row, one cannot argue that its too costly and then fight against making it less costly. It’s simply hypocritical, especially if adequate rights to appeal are preserved.

    • geraldfnord

      It is not hypocritical to complain about the expence and then fight a cost-saving measure if such seemed likely incompatible with a supervening goal, in this case that of not executing the innocent (at least of the offence considered) or the insane or otherwise non-competent. The same goes with regard to the delay…in fact, I think that a decent argument against capital punishment may well be that ‘delayed enough to be just’ might be longer than ‘delayed little enough not to be cruel’, much as one of the best reasons drugs laws are bad is that ‘surveillance powers sufficient to controlling them’ exceeds ‘surveillance powers compatible with liberty’.

  • geraldfnord

    This seems eminently just, given that noöne conviced of murder has ever been exonerated after five years’ time has elapsed.

  • Sanfordia113

    So Mr. Garcetti is opposed to inmates getting attorneys and having their appeals adjudicated? Seems he is trying to cover up a corrupt career as DA. Vote yes on this proposition!

  • Thomas Hardy

    Mark Peterson’s final comment that there are no documented cases of an innocent person being executed in Ca. is a nonsense statement. By that logic, no woman has ever been raped who did not report it to the police. The absence of evidence is not evidence, especially in cases where those in control of the evidence– the police, district attorneys who buried exculpatory evidence and are hiding it even after DNA exonerates defendants (who, by the way, are all still alive, no one does a habeus for the dead)– are unwilling to produce that evidence. But lets start with the obvious–Caryl Chessman. Any meaningful, unbiased review of that case shows a man executed for crimes he did not commit (and the fact that he did commit other non capital crimes does not make him guilty of capital crimes). His appeals were a farce, yet every defender of the death penalty trots out the “years of appeals” he had, as they do with most death penalty cases, when the fact is, that once the original trial goes bad because of bad evidence, as opposed to procedural defect, there is little one can do to change the result on appeal. Appeals do not reexamine evidence–the reexamine procedure–and that is the fatal flaw in all the arguments about rights to appeal. There may be good and bad arguments about the death penalty, but the claim that innocent people have not been executed is the most bogus of all those claims,

    • Scott F. Kauffman

      For those who believe there has never been a “documented” innocent person on California’s death row, I invite you to read of the case of Dennis Lawley [In re Lawley (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1231]. In December 2007 a gun was found in a field in Modesto which conclusively established the credibility of the actual killer who had maintained that Lawley was innocent for 20 years. The California Supreme Court refused to consider the fact or implication of the newly discovered gun in its ruling in 2008, and ordered Lawley to file a new habeas petition. That petition sat before the Court for 4 years without action. In March 2012, Lawley died in his cell in San Quentin. The State of California has no interest in finding anyone innocent after they have been convicted. That is why there are no “documented” cases.

    • MattCA12

      Of course an innocent person has been executed. To believe otherwise is incredibly naive, and would be akin to believing an innocent person has never been incarcerated. It’s a human-designed system, and as such will have the inevitable human flaws. But never executing an innocent person cannot be the goal. If that’s all we’re worried about then why have a criminal justice system at all.

  • Thomas Hardy

    No one convicted of murder has every been exonerated after 5 years? What planet are you on. Google Michael Morton and innocent; he was exonerated after spending 25 years for murder. Then google murder and innocent. You will be overwhelmed by the number who spent 10 15 and 20 or more years in prison before they were proven innocent.

  • Thomas Hardy

    Michael Morton was Texas. And the fact that no one in Ca. has ever been exonerated after 5 years means Ca. is not preserving the evidence as Texas does.

    • Sanfordia113

      wrong.

      • Thomas Hardy

        After an overwhelming evidence based answer like that, what could one possibly reply.

  • Sanfordia113

    These anti-capital punishment people put forth a red herring argument of how much it costs death row inmates (mostly involving the costs of appeals and other legal costs). An inmate condemned to life in prison is likewise entitled to such legal protections, except in the case of a lifer, the taxpayers are on the hook for 40-60 years, instead of 5-8 years under this proposal.

    • Guest

      Then the costs of incarcerating violent criminals should be reduced, or society should find money by releasing nonviolent offenders.

      • Sanfordia113

        The biggest expense for a large population of California prisoners is healthcare and services expenses. Execution eliminates these, and many other costs.

      • Sanfordia113

        One way to do this would be to build a giant prisoner compound and let the prisoners fend for themselves within their walls. Airlift food drops every day, but otherwise, provide nothing but free land to the prisoners.

  • rplantz

    In each of his statements, Mark Peterson includes comments about how terrible these convicted people are. That is vengeance, pure and simple. Vengeance should not be part of the equation.

    • Sanfordia113

      prophylaxis and economics should, inwhich case, the death penalty is the clear winner (if this proposition passes).

      • rplantz

        I’m not aware of any proof that the death penalty provides a good deterrent. Although we humans seem to be okay with killing on the basis of economics, that makes me very sad.

        • Sanfordia113

          Death is the only way to absolutely ensure that a monster won’t reoffend.

          • rplantz

            True, but I have heard that there can be flaws in proving that one is a monster. (See for example, “Picking Cotton”.) I was talking about deterring those who have not yet committed a monstrous act.

        • MattCA12

          Of course the death penalty isn’t a deterrent. How could it be? It’s never used.

          • rplantz

            A person was executed in Texas earlier this month. I’ve never heard a good argument that knowing there is a death penalty, as opposed to life in prison with no parole, would stop a murderer. I suspect that most murderers either don’t think about it (crimes of passion, insanity, etc.) or think it’s just part of doing business. I have no proof of my feelings about this, but I doubt that there is good evidence supporting either side of this argument.

  • MattCA12

    The problem with the death penalty in California (and indeed in this country) is that those who purport to support it have killed it. Don’t blame death penalty opponents. In the name of executing only the “worst of the worst”, we have allowed juries to decide which murder was bad and which murder was not so bad. In the name of protecting the condemned from experiencing any pain whatsoever, we have medicalized executions to the point where no one can perform them. We claim as a state to support the death penalty because it is “right”, yet we have allowed our elected officials and their judicial appointees to abdicate their responsibilities and to create a morass of conflicting laws and procedures around capital jurisprudence. We tout the death penalty’s “deterrent” effect, yet we execute a statistically insignificant number of the condemned. And my favorite, we say that cost cannot be a factor in the name of ensuring justice, yet we fret over the “expense” of the death penalty.

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