6:54 pm

  Local News
  State / National / World
  Opinion / Letters
  Arts / Entertainment
  Submit Event
  Comics / Games
  DJ Designers
  Advertise With Us
  About Us
Ex-governors want California death penalty reform
February 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Linda Deutsch The Associated

LOS ANGELES — Three former California governors announced a proposed ballot initiative Thursday designed to speed up the state’s lengthy death penalty process.

Former Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis said they were launching a signature-gathering effort for the measure that would limit appeals available to death row inmates, remove the prisoners from special death row housing, and require them to work at prison jobs in order to pay restitution to victims.

The former governors, appearing with law enforcement officials at a news conference, made it clear they want executions to begin as soon as possible. There are more than 700 prisoners on California’s death row.

“Old age should not be the leading cause of death on death row,” former Gov. Pete Wilson said.

They agreed the death penalty system is crippled by waste and inefficiency.

“We all know the death penalty system is broken at the appellate level,” said former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley.

His predecessor in that job, Gil Garcetti, is leading the opposition to the initiative and was a proponent of Proposition 34, the 2012 ballot measure that would have repealed the death penalty in California. The vote was 48 percent in favor and 52 percent opposed, one of the closest votes ever on a death penalty referendum.

A statement from the former governors said “Californians overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support for the death penalty” with the vote on Prop. 34.

Executions have been halted since 2006 because of lawsuits in federal and state courts over changing a three-drug lethal-injection method that had been used to carry out death sentences.

Asked about the availability of drugs to carry out executions, the governors said they could not comment and that would be an issue for the California Department of Corrections.

Two relatives of victims spoke and decried the length of time it takes to resolve a death penalty appeal. Phyllis Loya said it took four years for an attorney to be assigned to a man convicted of killing her son.

Davis said it can take 10 years before a federal application for review of a death penalty case is resolved and another 10 years to clear state appellate courts.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, representing the California District Attorneys Association, said if the initiative passes there would be no frivolous appeals and the state would see enormous fiscal savings.

With the initiative, backers want to bypass automatic appeals to the California Supreme Court and instead distribute them to other appeals courts unless it is necessary for a case to be heard by the high court.

Absent from the press conference were former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown is personally opposed to the death penalty but has said he would abide by the law.

He declined comment on the proposed initiative Thursday.

Garcetti called the initiative a misguided effort and predicted legal challenges would take decades to resolve.

Anna Zamora of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California later issued a statement saying: “This flawed proposal will only make matters worse. It will create more delays and overburden our already strained court system. Worst of all, it will greatly increase the risk that California could execute an innocent person.”



Tags: death, penalty, would, california, former, initiative,

Other stories from today:


Print this Page Print this Page  |  Bookmark and Share
<< Back
Return To Archives

Daily Journal Quick Poll
Do you agree with Gov. Brown signing The End of Life Option Act, which allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with the help of a doctor?

Yes, it will allow those with terminal conditions to die with dignity
No, doctors are sometimes too hasty in determining someone is terminally ill
Not sure


United States, 11 Pacific Rim countries reach trade deal
WASHINGTON — Having hammered out an ambitious trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim countries, the Obama ..
California governor signs right-to-die legislation
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday allowing terminally ill people in the nati..
California governor signs hard-won right-to-die legislation
SACRAMENTO — California will become the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients to legally en..
US commander says Afghans requested US airstrike in Kunduz
WASHINGTON — Afghan forces who reported being under Taliban fire requested the U.S. airstrike that..
Three share Nobel medicine prize for tropical disease drugs
STOCKHOLM — A Chinese scientist who turned to ancient texts to discover a powerful malaria drug sh..
More >>  

©2015 San Mateo Daily Journal
San Mateo County notice to administer estate