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Ballot Measure Pushed To Abolish Death Penalty In Calif.

Above: The gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

Aired 10/26/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Natasha Minsker Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act (SAFE) Campaign Manager

Paul Pfingst served as San Diego County District Attorney for eight years. He is a partner in the law firm of Higgs, Fletcher & Mack


The Adjustment Center, one of four housing units at San Quentin State Prison ...
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Above: The Adjustment Center, one of four housing units at San Quentin State Prison that houses condemned inmates who are placed under administrative segregation based on their custodial behavior, notoriety and/or protective needs.

Organizers of the SAFE California campaign say they believe voters are ready to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Campaign to collect signatures to place an anti-death penalty initiative on the 2012 ballot was launched across the state, including here in San Diego, today. The initiative is aimed not so much toward saving lives, as redirecting millions spent on death penalty cases to solving more crimes.

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Avatar for user 'chuckles92104'

chuckles92104 | October 26, 2011 at 1:55 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

Paul Pfingst's presence on today's Edition is a mystery to me. On the face of it, he seems a perfect guest given his background, but where his being a guest falls short is on two fronts: he couldn't take a stand on the issue of pending California legislation--are you for the death penalty or not?

The other 'argument' he had for maintaining the death penalty in the state of California is a red herring. On at least two occasions he brought up the idea that people want the death penalty as a deterrent to terrorism, either foreign or domestic. In either case terrorism is tried at the Federal level and has little or no bearing on the issue of California law.

For myself, the death penalty is barbaric, serves no real purpose (not even as a deterrent), is severely flawed and is expensive.

Barbaric: how do we teach our society, particularly children, that killing is wrong when we have a death penalty in place?

Purpose: The only real purpose is to impose retribution on a criminal and perhaps give the surviving families of crime victims some sense of finality or "peace of mind."

Do we want to be a people who exact retribution? I for one don't see the purpose of telling my child "do as I say, not as I do."

The criminal put to death won't have a worry in the world after they're gone.

Ask the families of crime victims if they have their finality or peace of mind? Their loved one is still a victim of a crime, as are they, and no finality is reached. Prosecutors could have stopped short of the death penalty with life without parole instead. True punishment is the criminal behind bars having to think of their crime every single day of the remainder of their life.

Severely Flawed: Only 29% of the world's countries carry out a death sentence for certain crimes. A nice list of "the axis of evil" countries are on that list, the US included. More than the company we keep, the number of false convictions, many based on eye/witness testimony (which is accurate only about 20-25% of the time), that are carried through to the death penalty should invalidate its use. Our system is inherently flawed if we execute the innocent (i.e., Carlos DeLuna, Ruben Cantu, Larry Griffin, Joseph O'Dell, David Spence, Leo Jones, Gary Graham, Claude Jones, Cameron Willingham, to name a few).

Expensive: Death row inmates spend an average of 169 MONTHS (14 years) waiting for execution. Death row inmates cost California $90,000 per year IN ADDITION to what a maximum security inmate costs ($47,102). Add the cost of mandatory appeals and you have a massive burden, monetary and otherwise, placed on states and counties (a death penalty trial costs counties at least $1.1 million more than a conventional murder trial).

Replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Come November 2012 vote YES on the Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement for California Act.

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