The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

California voters last month rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty and narrowly passed one that will speed up the process for executing inmates. California hasn’t carried out an execution in a decade because of issues with its legal injection method. A new protocol is pending approval by the end of the year. Forum discusses the state of the death penalty in California and how soon executions may resume.

Guests:
Anne Marie Schubert, district attorney, Sacramento County
Hadar Aviram, professor, UC Hastings College of Law; author, "Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment"

  • EIDALM

    Welcome to the new state of Texas, I meant California…..Execution is cruel, inhumane, and unusual punishment.

    • William – SF

      The Autobiography of an Execution, David R Dow

    • Another Mike

      I assure you that the euthanasia carried out on thousands of terminally ill animals annually in this state is humane.

    • Curious

      So you oppose abortion, right?

  • Adele

    Ms. Schubert, how would you feel if California executed an innocent person? And please don’t say that that’s not possible or try to wiggle your way out of this question – people on death row have been exonerated and it is very likely that innocent people have been executed in other states.

    And how do you justify supporting a system that is institutionally racist? From the ACLU, “The color of a defendant and victim’s skin plays a crucial and unacceptable role in deciding who receives the death penalty in America. People of color have accounted for a disproportionate 43 % of total executions since 1976 and 55 % of those currently awaiting execution. A moratorium of the death penalty is necessary to address the blatant prejudice in our application of the death penalty.”

    • Curious

      “how would you feel if California executed an innocent person?”
      Done every day – called abortion.

      • Adele

        And do you support capital punishment?

        • Curious

          Capital punishment is imposed on persons who have been found guilty of a heinous offence and only after being allowed all due process and appeals. Abortion is the unilateral termination of an innocent life.

          • MattCA12

            By this logic, you can enact “unilateral deprivation of an innocent life” by wearing a condom.

          • Curious

            No, that is not logic. It is silly.

          • Adele

            Agreed.

          • Curious

            False.

          • Adele

            Hypocrisy much?

          • Curious

            Yep. Opposing the death penalty but supporting abortion is hypocritical.

      • MattCA12

        Specious argument. Abortion is legal in California, as is capital punishment. I support both.

        • Curious

          Not at all specious.

    • MattCA12

      Of course the state has, and will, execute an innocent person. To proclaim the infallibility of any human-designed system is ludicrous. However, I would be willing to accept this (exceedingly rare) outcome as the price for having a system of capital punishment that is as rigorous in its application as it currently is in its overcautious utilization. Right now, we give the condemned umpteen bites at the apple, yet when each of these fails, there always seems to remain another appeal. This is not justice; it’s a game. And, while I am the first to state that racism still exists in America, there is a logical reason why DR inmates are mostly non-white. Have you examined FBI statistics on the percentage of black murders vs. white, for example?

      • Adele

        Wow, that’s sad. And what if you are that innocent person? Anything is possible. Would you be OK with that?

        • MattCA12

          I’d be furious, of course. I’d fight like heck within the system I was in, as would anybody. But whether I am THAT person or not isn’t the issue. The issue is the system and how to improve it. Do we do away with prisons because the wrongfully incarcerated are in them? Do we take away cops’ guns because they sometimes kill innocent people? Someone might try to assassinate the president – it’s happened before – so should he never venture outside? Ending a system that is arguably morally just simply because it has an inherent risk of failure doesn’t mean you do away with it.

          • Adele

            Oh, I think it is, especially if you’re going to make inane comparisons. Doing away with prisons is not equal to doing away with executing people. One of those you can’t undo. And, as for your being the first to state that racism still exists… know your facts.
            http://projects.heraldtribune.com/bias/sentencing/

      • DarthYan

        except that ignores key information. Most blacks are not murderers

      • DarthYan

        except that the “bites at the apple” aren’t really legitimate. The bar set by the AEDPA is so absurdly high that even when compelling proof is presented (Kevin Cooper was almost certainly framed when the cops planted evidence, when Daniel Gregonis added Cooper’s blood to a t-shirt and a stain recovered from a wall, and when Judge Huff cheerfully sabotaged any chance of Cooper getting a fair test done to see if it was planted.) the court rejects it (they had airtight proof that Gregonis lied about opening an envelope that contained evidence when he checked it out, and proof that the state judge was an incompetent idiot who refused to do her job, but the federal court was unable to intervene and the lead judge was allowed to give a petulant response asking “HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE THE COPS AND JUDGES OF BEING CORRUPT”. In the cooper case one of the judges who voted to deny a rehearing agreed that the cops probably did forge evidence, but felt the AEDPA blocked her from granting relief. As judge ward law says, 25 years of faulty proceedings is as good as no proceedings at all.

        As it stands the “safeguards” are a load of horseshit that fool gullible sheep into thinking everything’s just.

  • Another Mike

    In the wake of Prop 57, residential burglaries and auto burglaries/vandalism are way up. The citizenry is paying directly for that proposition, not as taxpayers.

  • EIDALM

    Welcome to Saudi Arabia U S A …..California ……..

  • Ben Rawner

    Why don’t we just hang people like we used to? The death penalty is supposed to be a deterrent and knowing you are more likely to die of old age in prison than actually being executed means there is no deterrent. The people have chosen CA leaders needs to represent them.

    • Another Mike

      The death penalty is not supposed to be a deterrent, but retribution.

  • Another Mike

    Two thoughts expressed here are wrong. First, execution is not revenge. The murder of a member of society is a loss to all of society, not just to the victims’ loved ones.
    Second, normally the least a criminal is asked to do is make restitution, but no restitution is possible when someone is murdered. The murderer forfeits his own life when he murders another person, and giving up his own life is the least he can do.
    Finally, I am surprised to hear from the professor that Japan is not part of the Western world, because they still routinely execute murderers, even though their murder rate is far lower than ours.

    • DarthYan

      Well there’s the fact it’s basically sick satisfaction by idiots

      • Another Mike

        Executing murderers is a categorical imperative. Punishments must fit the crime. Taking the life of a person in a manner consonant with murder in the first degree earns the murderer his own death. Only then is society restored to equilibrium.

        • DarthYan

          with life sentences there’s a chance to undo it. With the death penalty there is no chance. Henry McCollum only escaped his sentence because an innocence commission was able to force the cops to give up evidence that ultimately exposed the true murderer. Otherwise he would have died for Roscoe Artis’s crime

          • Another Mike

            I addressed this above.

  • Another Mike

    I have been able to euthanize my terminally ill animals here in California for years — surprising these drugs are not available for human beings.

  • Jessica

    The death penalty is not a deterrent. Most don’t plan the murder and most don’t think they’ll be caught. Consequences only work as a deterrent when you think before you act and when you think you might be caught.

    The death penalty isn’t a restitution. It restores nothing to society.

    The only argument for killing a convicted person at this point is revenge. That’s not the goal of our justice/corrections depts.

    • Another Mike

      Revenge would mean that the murderer was killed in the same violent way that he killed his victim. Or that society would kill the one of the murderer’s loved ones, so that he could experience the same pain that the relatives of his victim felt. Or even that the murderer were tortured to experience the maximum pain possible.
      None of these can be recognized in modern execution protocols, which are akin to the humane euthanasia of animals.

      • Jessica

        Euthanasia, by definition, is a good death. There’s no such thing as a good death when it’s imposed upon you.

        • Another Mike

          Euthanasia was defined by Sir Francis Bacon as the “easy dying of the body” in Book IV of The Advancement of Learning (Volume IX of the Collected Works).
          Eu can mean “well,” “good,” or “easy.”

          • Jessica

            Well, good, or easy for whom? Certainly not for the person being killed.

          • Another Mike

            It is the easiest way to die that we know of.

          • diwilson

            Or for the family of the person being killed

      • DarthYan

        no. It’s lowering yourself to the murderer’s level. Revenge is “eye for an eye.” Do to the aggressor what was done to the victim. And no, they aren’t humane. The latest guy we put to death died in agony; there have been others, hence the reason so many states are trying to hide protocols

        • Another Mike

          A life for a life is not revenge by the criteria I already gave. It is close as the miscreant can come to retribution although real retribution is impossible. Vanishingly few murderers use euthanasia to kill their victims, so euthanizing them is the opposite of revenge.

          The state of California cannot inflict pain on its convicted murderers by court decision.

          • DarthYan

            you’re arguing badly. taking a life for a life is primitive. You can dress it up in whatever flowery language you want but the ugly truth is it’s basically revenge. Also, states with the death penalty tend to have HIGHER crime. Also, the “lethal injection” isn’t really humane. Quite a few die in agony

          • Another Mike

            Let us examine how other crimes are punished.
            If a man steals a car, or embezzles from his company, it is not sufficient for him to return the property to its rightful owner (restitution). Depriving the man of his liberty for a certain time in addition to restitution is considered to be a just punishment.
            If a man beats his wife, it is not considered sufficient for him to be jailed until her injuries heal, when she is restored to normal health.

            But if a man kills another man, restitution is impossible. And mere restitution is considered insufficient punishment for all other crimes. The most society can do is retribution.

            So, by the standards we apply for punishment for all other crimes, the death penalty is not only just, it is inadequate.

            Does the death penalty have an inverse effect on the murder rate in a state?
            No, per the Death Penalty Information Center. Over the past two decades, the murder rate in low- or no-execution California has typically been HIGHER than in high-execution Texas. Only over the past two years have the two rates been the same.

            Once again, euthanasia as applied to eliminating the suffering of thousands of animals in this state is painfree. Euthanasia as applied to stop the suffering of the terminally ill in Oregon, and soon California, is painfree. Only when it comes to ending the life of America’s most heinous criminals does the pain element arise.

    • MattCA12

      Of course the death penalty is about vengeance. The State has a moral right to exact punishment against those who have transgressed its laws. I support this, fully. And the reason the death penalty is not a deterrent? By the time a murderer is actually executed 20+ years after committing his crime, no one can remember why he is being executed, except perhaps the victim’s family. For any punishment to deter, its administration should closely follow the commission of the original crime. When your puppy makes a mess in the house, you put his nose near it and say “bad dog” right away, not decades later. Our current system of capital punishment, such as it is, fails the time test for deterrence utterly. Speed them up, and society will see a deterrent benefit.

      • Jessica

        The state’s right to punish? Here is the mission statement of the Dept of Corrections:

        “The mission of our department is to protect the public by safely and securely supervising adult and juvenile offenders, providing effective rehabilitation and treatment, and integrating offenders successfully into the community.”
        -says nothing about punishment.

        • Jessica

          And the Judicial Branch of California:
          “Committed to providing fair and equal access to justice for all Californians.”

        • Another Mike

          Punishment for major crimes consists of two things, typically: restraint of one’s liberty for a term of days or years, and the stigma of being a convicted criminal. “Save and secure” supervision of the offenders occurs while they are being punished.

      • DarthYan

        except it isn’t proportionate. The only reason to kill a murderer is to get your rocks off and get sick satisfaction. It doesn’t really work. You just become a sadist yourself.

      • DarthYan

        and no it isn’t just the long time that keeps it from being a deterrent. Most murderers either don’t plan it or are confident they won’t get caught. Sometimes a murderer is whacked out on drugs and not thinking. Sometimes they’re smugly certain they’ll get away with it. Sometimes they’re greedy. The Death penalty has not and will not EVER be a deterrent

  • De Blo

    The failure of the California electorate to ban the counterproductive, inhumane, and immoral practice of killing in the name of the state was the one truly disappointing result at the state level in the 2016 general election.

    • Another Mike

      Counterproductive? Have murder rates gone up in states that carry out the death penalty?
      Inhumane? Tens of thousands of animals are humanely euthanized each year, via IV drugs.
      Immoral? What’s immoral is for a murderer to continue to enjoy life — perhaps for decades — after taking the life of another.

      • DarthYan

        yes actually.

        • Another Mike

          This is three facts short of a counterargument.

      • De Blo

        Yes, absolutely, murder rates are much higher in states with the death penalty than in those without it. Compare the murder rates in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana (all among the highest in the nation) and those in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont, etc. There is a strong correlation between active use of the death penalty and murder rate. In terms of the inhumanity, you must not follow the news. Repeatedly in multiple states in the last few years, it has taken multiple attempts accompanied by agonized writhing to kill these murderers.

        • Another Mike

          The difference between the Northeast and the deep South would seem to be cultural as much as death-penalty related.

    • Jorge Carolinos

      The disdain that some on the left feel for their fellow man that they often try and claim is always selective and often interesting.

    • Another Mike

      Over the past 20 years, the murder rates in California has been as high or higher than in Texas.

      • De Blo

        Actually, Texas and California are tied with a murder rate of 4.8 murders per 100,000 people. However, California has the largest death row in the nation, so we are not the exemplar of state’s without a death penalty. Not to mention the fact that counties in California that use the death penalty the most (e.g., Kern, San Bernardino, Los Angeles), have the highest murder rates. Of the ten states with the most murders per capita, eight are heavy killers. The lack of respect for life caused by the death penalty has an inevitable effect on the culture and criminality and violence.

  • Colette Carter

    I am living in California. I am against the death penalty. There are way too many innocent people on death row. I believe it is too costly as well. While I was filling out my early ballot, I was investigating the issue being debated on the radio. I am intelligent but I never found clear explanation on what the proposition meant. I wanted expedited sentences and I naivey thought this would alliviate the torture of the accused and the victims families etc. It was NOT my itention to vote for the death penalty whatsoever. My voice was lost amid the lack of more information, easily accessible information and my error in voting. So, I’m not the only one. The voice of the “the people” including myself has not been heard. If I had fully understood the proposition I would Never vote in favor of any type of death penalty.

    • Colette Carter

      I am disturbed by the mispelling and absence of words in some of my text. At this time I ask readers to overlook the errors and consider the content.

      • Jessica

        This is NPR. The readers never overlook minor errors. 😉

      • William – SF

        There is an Edit option beneath your comment that you can use to make corrections.

  • LCIV

    I’m sorry, but the Professor from Hastings is probably the most annoying person in the world.

    • MattCA12

      She makes a number of well worn and frankly condescending arguments against the DP. The idea that the commonweal cannot take a moral decision to have the death penalty, and then have our elected officials and their appointees, together with our “neo-populist” referendum process, implement our wishes, seems to be the basis for most of what she’s saying. She keeps referring to “other Western countries” and “other states” that do not have the DP…well, we are not them.

      • Jorge Carolinos

        The exact quote escapes me but “I’m sorry for your loss 1st, 2nd, and 3rd blah blah blah blah,” poor lady you are the worst cliche. She made me want to walk through death row with a hand gun.

        • Krasney Quite Enjoys Democrats

          !!

      • DarthYan

        except they were abolished for good reason. They realized that it isn’t worth it to execute the innocent and that the only reason they do it is a primitive lust for revenge

        • Another Mike

          So why do we punish any crimes? It’s not worth it to imprison the innocent any more to execute them. That leaves what?

          • DarthYan

            that’s faulty logic. With life sentences there’s a chance (even if it’s slight) to undo it. in death row if you die it can never be undone. Henry McCollum was on death row; the only reason the truth was uncovered was a.) his state was the ONE state where an innocence commission wielded the power to force the cops to hand over evidence they lied about b.) there was a moratorium. Had neither been in play he would have died for Roscoe Artis’s crime. David Spence and Johnny Garrett were almost certainly innocent yet got put to death. the WM3 avoided death because the documentarians wanting to make a film about crazy teens realized the prosecution’s case was horseshit and made a documentary outlining the problem, attracting enough public outcry that the boys were able to get attorneys who could represent them AND get testing done that implicated Terry Hobbs the abusive stepdad of one of the boys.

          • Another Mike

            Trials held in the deep South three decades ago are of scant relevance to California’s justice system today, which does not feature conviction for conviction’s sake, coerced confessions, or trying people not competent to assist in their own defense.

            But your first example shows that sentences can never be undone. McCollum gave up his youth and middle age — the time when most men are marrying and raising children to adulthood as they build a career and buy a home — to the state of North Carolina. Freeing him at age 51 after a lifetime of regimentation did him scant favors.
            DNA evidence — either unavailable or unreliable when McCollum was tried — is both available and reliable today.

          • DarthYan

            you can release a person from a life sentence. You can’t undo executing someone. And it wasn’t just DNA. The police knew full well roscoe artis was a valid suspect (they requested fingerprinting recovered from a veer can be compared to him, but when DA britt refused they dropped the matter.) They chose to ignore it after a half assed effort. The only reason the commission had room was that there was a moratorium on. Had there not been one the truth would never have been revealed and he would have died with everyone thinking him a monster.

          • Another Mike

            It is not great to be released from prison when you are AARP material yet have no employment history. Meeting and marrying a woman still capable of having children is pretty much off the table. You have given up the best part of most people’s lives.

          • DarthYan

            except racism is still in play; blacks get death sentences largely because the prosecutors and police are rather racist (statistically very few commit crimes at all.)

          • Another Mike

            The measured effect of racism was that a white life was worth more than a black life, because convicted killers of white people were more likely to receive a death sentence than convicted killers of black people.

      • DarthYan

        except the other countries and states have less crime

    • Jorge Carolinos

      I was going to post something along the same lines after listening to her self absorbed – self righteous ramblings this morning, I feel sorry for anyone who has to sit through her classes that are likely all about her. Before listening to her I was 60 – 40 pro death panelty, after 70 -30.

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