Supervisor Ronald Briggs Works with ACLU to Repeal Death Penalty
"Conservative" Ron Briggs is working with the ACLU and Liberal advocates to repeal California's Death Penalty.
El Dorado County supervisor Ronald Briggs now wants California's death penalty abolished, contending the state no longer can afford a system that has cost an estimated $4 billion since 1978 and executed 13 prisoners.
"We started with six people on death row in 1978, and we never thought that there would one day be 729," said Briggs, a conservative Republican. "We never conceived of an appellate process that is decades long."
Death penalty supporters concede the system is not working but argue that cost estimates are inflated and that changes in law and court rulings could speed up the process. Mend it, don't end it, the opponents of Proposition 34 argue.
The political odds this November favor supporters of capital punishment, according to analysts.
Whatever the outcome, the debate over Proposition 34 has shown that forces once solidly behind capital punishment are now splintered.
The Proposition 34 campaign, managed by an ACLU policy director, has focused more on the cost than the ethics of capital punishment. The campaign cites a study that estimated that between now and 2050, the death penalty will cost California as much as $7 billion more than life without parole.
In ballot materials, the opposition argument implies the measure would cost, rather than save. "California is broke," the argument says. "Prop. 34 costs taxpayers $100 million over four years and many millions more, long term."
Opponents include county prosecutors, police and sheriff associations, and former Govs. Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian.
A California poll showed that in the days after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater on July 20, support for the death penalty jumped.
Trying to keep the focus on the criminals, opponents of Proposition 34 are reminding voters that inmates Richard Allen Davis — the murderer of 12-year-old Polly Klaas — Night Stalker Richard Ramirez, and serial killer Charles Ng will never be executed if the death penalty is abolished.
Save the Death Penalty
by Debra J. Saunders, LA Times
Recently, Editorial Page Editor John Diaz asked Mark Klaas if he expects to feel closure if California executes Richard Allen Davis, the man who kidnapped, toyed with and then killed Klaas' 12-year-old daughter, Polly, in 1993. A jury found Davis guilty and sentenced him to death in 1996. From the early days after Davis snatched Polly from a Petaluma slumber party, Klaas has been a highly visible advocate for strong laws to protect the public, especially children, from career criminals and predators like Davis. He had come to The Chronicle with other opponents of Proposition 34, the ballot measure that would end California's death penalty and resentence California's 700-plus death-row inmates to life without parole.
Klaas' answer may surprise you. He sadly shook his head and answered, "Is it going to bring any closure to me? No."
But, Klaas added, Davis "will no longer be able to run his website." Young girls no longer will write to him.
It turns out the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty hosts a Richard Allen Davis home page, on which the convicted killer displays "hand-painted wood hobby craft items," which he made, and posts photos of himself. Davis also wonders if there's anyone out there who wants to know who he really is, and "if for someone like myself, can one ever fall back in love with life again?"
Davis invites interested parties to write to him at San Quentin.
Klaas wants to see Davis executed, he told me later, because the man who killed his daughter should have no influence in this world. That, he emphasized, is "what's supposed to stop."
As Klaas sees it, the anti-death-penalty lobby is asking Californians to disarm themselves unilaterally.
He cited cases like that of John Gardner. After the convicted sex offender was arrested for the murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King in 2010, Gardner went for a deal. He admitted to killing King, and also to the 2009 murder and attempted rape of 14-year-old Amber Dubois. Gardner even led authorities to Amber's bones.
Parents Brent and Kelly King agreed to the plea bargain, because, they said in a statement covered by CBS News, "the Dubois family has been through unthinkable hell the past 14 months. We couldn't imagine the confession to Amber's murder never seeing the light of day, leaving an eternal question mark."
"You take the death penalty off the table," Klaas told The Chronicle, and communities will be held hostage to the fear and uncertainty that follow when a young person goes missing. "Crimes will not be solved. Victims will not be recovered."
Without the death penalty, it is doubtful that Jared Lee Loughner would have pleaded guilty to a 2011 shooting in Tucson during which he killed six and wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Given his history of mental illness, it's not clear Loughner would have been found guilty.
Even when it doesn't work, the death penalty works.
California prosecutors and California juries do not reach the death penalty lightly. Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert estimates that death-row inmates represent less than 2 percent of those convicted for murder.
At least with the death penalty on the books, there's a good chance that some of the worst offenders will agree to a sentence of life without parole in order to avoid lethal injection.
In such cases, there is quick resolution, certainty of outcome and victims' families need not worry about an offender getting off, because the defendant has no grounds for appeals. All of the outcomes that the anti-death-penalty lobby extol - cheaper, faster and more certain - exist only because of the death penalty.
Why would Californians want to get rid of it?
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/Save-the-death-penalty-38...