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San Diego Law Enforcement Defends Death Penalty

Evening Edition

— The County Administration Building provided a backdrop today for people who came out to affirm their support of the California death penalty. Members of San Diego law enforcement groups and the families of murder victims urged a "no" vote on Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty in the state.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis took the podium as law enfo...
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Above: San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis took the podium as law enforcement officials and members of victims families urged voters to defeat Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty in California.

“What this is really all about is honoring the families of the victims and providing justice,” said Bonnie Dumanis, the San Diego County District Attorney.

Those who spoke at the morning press conference said voters would diminish California's system of justice if they eliminated the punishment of death for the "worst of the worst." Dumanis singled out child rapists and serial killers when she spoke of that class of criminal.

Police Association leaders said eliminating the death penalty would endanger officers on the street. The murder of a police officer is one of the special circumstances that makes murder punishable by death.

Phyllis Loya spoke of her son, a police officer, who was murdered in 2005. His killer is on death row.

“I would have never envisioned that some day I would be standing before reporters, pleading for justice for my son,” she said as she held back tears.

But critics have called the death penalty dysfunctional: a broken system that can't be fixed. Even Dumanis has called the death penalty a “hollow promise” to victims’ families. She made the comment in 2010 when she chose to settle for life in prison without the possibility of parole for John Gardner, who confessed to the rape and murder of two teenage girls.

The death penalty process is mired in delays, and California hasn’t executed anyone for six years. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, California has condemned nearly 900 people to death. Only 13 of them have actually be executed.

But Dumanis said it doesn’t have to be that way.

“There are ways to fix it. We can mend it, not end it,” she said.

State Senator Joel Anderson, who represents eastern San Diego County, showed up at the press conference. He has proposed reforms of the California death penalty such as removing the automatic appeal that's required for death cases.

But death penalty opponents like law professor Justin Brooks say creating an efficient death penalty is highly unlikely.

“We’ve had this remedy for decades," said Brooks. "And we’ve been unable to make it efficient, and we’ve been unable to make it perfect so innocent people don’t get caught up in it.”

Prop 34 on the November ballot would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 18, 2012 at 9:34 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Take a good look at Ms. Dumanis.

She is a politician.

Do you really want her and her ilk given a license to kill people?

I think NOT.

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Avatar for user 'ChrisBernstien'

ChrisBernstien | October 24, 2012 at 11:06 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

There are plenty of reasons to keep the death penalty, few to get rid of it. The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children. 43 were police officers. 211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured. 11 murdered other inmates.

The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false.

No “savings.” Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one. Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work. These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers. Also, without the death penalty, the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty will lead to more trial and related costs and appeals.

No “accountability.” Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims. Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one.

No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors. Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate. They’re already serving a life sentence.

Efforts are also being made to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences. On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving 25 years. Life without parole is meaningless. Remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps.

Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. Can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See

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