The death penalty
Developments from late 2012 to 2013
- Scheduled for 2012-NOV: California: Proposition 34, a citizen initiative, added to the ballot on election day in 2012-NOV in an attempt to abolish the death penalty in the state. It is called the "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act," (a.k.a. SAFE California Act). If it passes, the sentences of 725 inmates on death row will be commuted to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
A 2009 report by Judge Arthur Alarcon of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and law professor Paula Mitchell concluded that abolishing the death penalty would save about $184 million annually by allowing to the layoff of prosecutors and defense attorneys who specialize in death penalty cases. The initiative would also direct $100 million of expected savings to be spread over three years to finance additional investigations into unsolved murders and rapes.
Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin prison supports the initiative, She said:
"Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake."
Gil Garcetti, a former Los Angeles county district attorney, said:
"My conclusion is that he law is totally ineffective. ... Most inmates [on death row] are going to die of natural causes, not executions."
Former Sacramento U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said that the real problem is not the death penalty. It is lawyers who file "frivolous appeals." He said:
"On behalf of crime victims and their loved ones who have suffered at the hands of California's most violent criminals, we are disappointed that the ACLU and their allies would seek to score political points in their continued efforts to override the will of the people and repeal the death penalty." 1
The proposition was narrowly defeated on 2012-NOV-06 by a vote of 47% in favor and 53% against. Even though it did not succeed, the results showed a major reduction in support in abolition of the death penalty since the 70% vote in 1978 to reinstate the death penalty.
The campaign to abolish the death penalty in California was largely based on the cost savings that would result from abandoning executions and the costly appeals processes.
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) has criticized this approach. They noted that the Proposition would largely cut off appeals by prisoners. CEDP recommends that the ethics of a life sentence without parole be stressed in place of execution. 2
2013-MAY-02: Maryland abolishes the death penalty:
Maryland became the 18th state to have abandoned the death penalty; the sixth state during the past six years. It is also the first state state south of the Mason-Dixon line to have abolished capital punishment.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said:
I don't know exactly what the timing is, but over the longer arc of history I think you'll see more and more states repeal the death penalty. It's wasteful. It's ineffective. It doesn't work to reduce violent crime.
Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, compared Governor O'Malley's potential bid for the Presidency in 2016 to Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton campaigning for the Presidency in 1992 :
"Our [Maryland] governor has also just redefined what it means to have a political future in this country. You know, it was just 20 years ago that a young governor with possibilities below the Mason-Dixon stopped during his presidential campaign" to oversee an execution."
Diane Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said:
"It doesn't always happen overnight. The more people study it, the more people understand it. This was a seven-year effort here in Maryland."
Del. Neil Parrott (R) is considering launching a citizen initiative to have voters reinstate the death penalty through a referendum in 2014. He said:
"We are thinking about it."
State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) is constitutional law professor opposing the death penalty. He said:
"The trend lines are clear. There's nobody who's adding the death penalty to their state laws. Everybody is taking it away."
The Death Penalty Information Center issued its annual report in 2012. It noted that three quarters of the executions occurred that year in only four states. Twenty-three states had not had an execution in a decade.
Other news sources of recent events:
Our web site has grown to over 6,000 essays. It is impossible for us to describe all of the events related to the death penalty. We will only mention major developments in the above list after 2010.
We recommend that you view the following sources for more detailed information:
- Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) has a free monthly "Death Penalty and the Right to Life" newsletter covering news from around the world. You can sign up in a box near the top of the page at: http://www.ipsnews.net
- Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) has an extensive web site that discusses the death penalty in the U.S. You can subscribe to their free newsletter by Emailing a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anti Death Penalty web site maintains a list of upcoming U.S. scheduled executions at: http://www.antideathpenalty.org/ They also have many essays on related topics, book lists, statistics, history, quotes, etc. They also maintain a list of other web sites opposed to the death penalty at: http://www.antideathpenalty.org/
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Paul Elias, "California Death Penalty Ban: Residents To Vote On Controversial Ban In November," Huffington Post, 2012-APR-23, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Lily Hughes, "Why the SAFE Act failed," Socialist Worker, 2012-NOV-28, at: http://socialistworker.org
- Brian Wittle, "Governor signs repeal of death penalty in Md.," Associated Press, 2013-MAY-02, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2012-APR-24
Last updated: 2013-MAY-03
Author: B.A. Robinson