skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Supporters Of Prop 34 Say Death Penalty Is Broken And Can’t Be Fixed

Aired 9/19/12 on KPBS News.

Legislative committee hosts a hearing in which people debate the merits of the death penalty and of Proposition 34, which would repeal it.

— People who support and oppose the death penalty seem to agree on one thing. Capital punishment in California is dysfunctional and brings little in the way of justice to victims' families.

Former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti was one of several who spoke in favor of Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty in California.
Enlarge this image

Above: Former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti was one of several who spoke in favor of Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty in California.

But they disagree on whether it can or should be fixed.

The debate over the death penalty took center stage in Sacramento yesterday as supporters and opponents debated Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty in California. A joint State Senate/Assembly committee heard testimony from opponents and supporters of the proposition, which will be on the November ballot.

The death penalty has been the law in California since being reinstated in 1978. Brian Brown, with the office of state legislative analyst, told the joint committee that since 1978 about 900 people have been condemned to death in the state. But only 14 have actually been executed.

Gil Garcetti, the former Los Angeles District Attorney, called the California death penalty an expensive farce.

"The system is broken,” he said. “It's dysfunctional and, underlying this, it cannot be fixed."

Brian Brown further testified California would likely save more than $100 million every year if the death penalty were repealed. He said the state would save the expense of maintaining death row, as well as the many years of costly court appeals that are a part of death penalty cases.

But supporters of the death penalty, and several members of the committee, were not convinced that capital punishment could not be fixed.

Democratic assemblyman Mike Gatto, from Los Angeles, said we shouldn't abolish a policy simply because state process was bogging it down with appeals and red tape.

"We're all guilty of making the system not work,” said Gatto. “And I think it's a bit disingenuous to say, Well now the system doesn't work and we have to get rid of it from a financial standpoint."

Death penalty opponents brought up the danger of executing innocent people. Supporters said California can speed up the process and make it work. All it needed, they said, was political will.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ChrisBernstien'

ChrisBernstien | September 19, 2012 at 11:55 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

The 729 convicted murderers on death row were convicted of brutally killing at least 1,279 people. At least 230 of them were children. 75 more were young adults between the ages of 18-20. Another 82 victims were older than 65.

Of these victims, at least 211 of them were raped and 319 of them robbed. Sixty-six victims were killed in execution style, usually bound and shot in the back of the head. Forty-seven victims were tortured.

Forty-three of these victims were law enforcement agents and another seven were security guards. Not included in these numbers are cases where the killer attempted to kill a police officer, but was unsuccessful, as in the case of Oswaldo Amezcua who shot three police officers.

An important consideration in changing a killer’s sentence to life is whether he has murdered other inmates while incarcerated. Eleven death sentences were handed down after an already-incarcerated inmate murdered another inmate. Troy Ashmus had previously killed an inmate and viciously attacked a deputy while incarcerated for another crime. Joseph Barrett killed an inmate while incarcerated for having killed a teacher. Kenneth Bivert killed an inmate while already incarcerated on three counts of murder. John Capistrano had a previous conviction for killing an inmate and attacked another inmate in a holding cell. Joseph Danks was already incarcerated for six murders when he killed the inmate which led to his death sentence. Martin Drews was also serving time for murder when he killed an inmate. Similarly, Lee Capers brought a knife to court to stab one of the witnesses testifying against him. These facts would have been important to the jurors who sentenced these killers to death.

While the murders for which these killers were sentenced to death are horrendous, the murder victims are only a part of the trail of violence left by these killers. Many had killed others before finally being sentenced to death for their most recent killing. Others are suspected to have killed dozens more. These individuals are responsible for at least another 300 murders.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'ChrisBernstien'

ChrisBernstien | September 19, 2012 at 11:56 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

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. Proposition 34 is being funded primarily by a wealthy company out of Chicago and the ACLU. It includes provisions that would make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials. It significantly increases the costs to taxpayers due to life-time medical costs, the increased security required to coerce former death-row inmates to work, the money to pay those inmates to work, etc. The amount “saved” in order to help fund law enforcement is negligible and only for three years. (The money is taken from the general fund irregardless of whether Prop 34 actually saves any money.) Prop. 34 also takes away funds inmates could use to actually fight for their innocence, increasing the risk that innocent people will spend the rest of their lives in jail. The dollars Prop. 34 takes away ensure both that innocent people are not executed or spend the rest of their lives in jail. Get the facts and supporting evidence at http://cadeathpenalty.webs.com and http://waiting4justice.org/.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | September 19, 2012 at 12:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, the system is broken, but our government lawmakers need to fix it. This is not something that should take years or even months to do. We know what's wrong with it. Appeal courts, cost of paperwork, and the like need to be overhauled. But to do away with the death penalty would be a crime in itself, and for our lawmakers to allow the system to remain as-is is shameful itself.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 1 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Sister Prejean (DEAD MAN WALKING) was scheduled to be in town to speak on this at United Methodist Church in San Diego.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 1:02 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

It would be great if KPBS would interview her.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 1:18 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"It includes provisions that would make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials. It significantly increases the costs to taxpayers due to life-time medical costs,"

So you want prisoners to be safer yet you are unwilling to grant them healthcare for longpterm illness, Mr. Bernstien, (aka Ca Off)??? Makes little sense, if any, as usual.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'InExile'

InExile | September 19, 2012 at 9:26 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Even if it were not broken it should be discontinued. It doesn't server any purpose as it doesn't prevent any crime. Only some people want to play God and be master over life and death, this attitude is what brought us into this situation.

Allowing capital punishment puts us on the same niveau with murderers. They see erroneously a valid reason to kill a human being. Having death penalty is a result of us seeing erroneously a valid reason to kill another human.

Violence is always the sign of a sick mind. No matter whether this sick mind fulfills our legal definition of insanity or not. No one in his right mind kills another. Neither to gain imagined advantage/protection nor to take revenge.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 20, 2012 at 7:11 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

IE, there is no chance of escape and recidivism for capitol crimes that are appropriately punished.
Allowing capital punishment puts us in the same class as exterminators or wildlife control professionals who remove dangerous threats. There is a reason only a few of the most severe felonies are considered capitol crimes.

Violence, or the ability to inflict violence, is often necessary when dealing with all animals, including humans. We like to think of ourselves as civilized and enlightened, but many of us are a few days without power away from massive looting and disorder. c.f. Katrina disorder

Further many people in their right minds kill others, namely; soldiers, police, persons defending their homes or shops and doctors who help terminal patients end their lives. You may disagree with their actions or be repulsed by their professions, but claiming that all of these people are somehow insane seems 'excessive'.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:49 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

I raised Saskia to believe – ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Let that person be Saskia! Start, by voting
NO on Proposition 34 !

In this election year what becomes MOST important is fixing our broken Justice System to actually uphold the VERDICT. Life in Prison WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE should always and forever remain just that. And the Death Penalty should be conducted as swiftly as the
CHOICE THE MURDERER MADE IN KILLING…

For you see, I am left to live a life now, which is truly TOO INHUMANE to be forced to live. And I hope you can all open your eyes, to see what it is to be a VICTIM, and extend to VICTIMS such as us, the same understanding, compassion, and HUMANITY that is all too often offered more to the MURDERERS!

Vote NO on Proposition 34 - If you can't do it for yourself, do it for your children...
My 14 year old daughter, Kessa, is waiting... To stand behind the glass, and watch as they execute William Gary Simpson. She can't feel SAFE, until he is DEAD. She speaks of this, every single day! Because she has nightmares of what Simpson did, every single night. It is her way of dealing with the trauma of witnessing Simpson murder her sister! It is this hope to see him die, that keeps her going forward, for now...
And for ME? I saw everything that demon, William Gary Simpson, did on December 20, 2011… I now know it is true – that MONSTERS DO EXIST!
And I am living proof, THAT NO ONE IS SAFE!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:50 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Please let me introduce you to Saskia Savana Burke!
11-6-93 to 12-20-11 Saskia was academically brilliant, scoring the perfect 600 on the state testing twice, yet humbled by how easy this was for her, and how difficult school was for others! Saskia went out into the world, with love and a special insight for all things, and continued her mothers work to change the world in positive ways! Saskia added her own special touch to the details of everyone’s life, every person she ever encountered. She was open and caring and giving to everyone, always! She was truly the most angelic creature any of us will ever encounter here in this life. How many people can you say are truly genuine? Saskia was. And she infected each one of us with her passion for life, her kind and loving nature, her ‘real’ and ‘true’ happiness, the simple sound of her oh-so-contagious laughter!

Saskia was only 18 years-1 month-14 days-28 minutes old, in the middle of her Senior Year of High School!



http://murrieta.patch.com/search/blog_posts?_utf8=☃&keywords=Catherine+Burke
http://www.remembersaskia.com/

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:51 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

We made it through the prelim Friday, September 14, 2012...
As they put up all the bloody pictures, of the crime scene that is my home... As they put up the pictures of my daughters bloody, mutilated body and explained which stab wounds were the fatal ones...

"Murrieta police Detective Jeffrey Ullrich, who attended the autopsy of Saskia Burke, said the woman suffered seven stab wounds. Two of the wounds, one to the right side of her face that severed her jugular vein and another to the center of her chest, were not survivable, Ullrich said"

William Gary Simpson stabbed Saskia in her left cheek, the force of the knife breaking her 3 molars on her bottom left jaw, shoving the knife all the way through her face, the blade going out her right cheek... AFTER PULLING THE KNIFE OUT, he stabbed her again, the force of the knife going into her right cheek, at a downward angle, slicing through her tongue, cutting through the muscle and tendons in her jaw and severing her artery, all 12+ inches of the blade going in all the way to her heart... After PULLING THE KNIFE OUT AGAIN, he then stabbed her in the chest - severing both her lungs and the ventricle to her heart...
She lived long enough for us to helplessly watch her die!

"(William Gary Simpson) went into the home to kill those people," Smith said. "Paul Burke and Connor McCormack are not dead because they had the strength to fight back."
Saskia Burke did not have a chance, Smith said.
"(Simpson) slaughters her," Smith said. "He stabbed her in the face, in the heart, in the back."

I live in a horror, too absolute to breathe...

His intent, to slaughter my entire family - and the heinous way in which he slaughtered my daughter, well - during a break in court, even his defense lawyers approached us and apologized for what happened to Saskia…

“The Riverside County district attorney decided in April to seek the death penalty for William Gary Simpson, who also is charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with the stabbings of Burke's father, Paul, and her boyfriend, Connor McCormack, then 17. Simpson also faces several special allegations including lying in wait and committing his crimes during a burglary.
The charges against William Gary Simpson Jr., 19, the alleged killer of Saskia Burke, were upheld by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen following a day-long preliminary hearing.
Simpson is charged with first-degree murder and a special circumstance allegation of killing in the course of a burglary in the Dec. 20, 2011 fatal attack at the Burke home, in Murrieta.
He is also charged with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, as well as two counts of attempted murder and multiple great bodily injury and weapons allegations.”

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:52 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Let Saskia Burke’s voice now scream loudly for -
PROTECTION !!!

And so, I now take a firm stance in this matter,
FOR THE DEATH PENALTY! PLEASE Vote NO on Proposition 34!
In this election year, the DEATH PENALTY will be on the ballot. Our CA Governor, Jerry Brown, opposes the Death Penalty. I need your help to make Saskia the face for all victims, and give Saskia’s story, to the people of California – AND THIS NATION, as to why the Death Penalty is so important to the Victims of Violent Crime. Join me in putting political views, religious beliefs, and personal feelings aside – to finally change our laws! Throughout the history of our country, change only came after someone had reason enough to stand before us and lead the way! I stand before you now – and Saskia is my reason!

I know just how flawed our system is – as I am forced to live within it now! We now find ourselves lost in this "Justice System", a system that is fraught too many 'injustices' for victims and their families. Isn't it time, as a nation, we make the needed changes within this defunct system, to ensure the safety of everyone? If not for yourself, then for the safety of your children! Our current system is designed “FOR” the murderers, not the victims. Our murderer was caught, and faces the death penalty. A sentence he will never really receive, when it is given to him. Besides the fact that we witnessed him do this, there is overwhelming DNA evidence, and yet - it will be years before we can get to a trial, as he claims he is innocent of all charges... An agonizing process for all victims to endure, a process that keeps them frozen in the moment of murder until the trial is over! And when our murderer is sentenced? Our terror does not end, it never will!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:53 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

So let Saskia’s words speak loudly for us all! Because this, the most precious gift in life, is what William Gary Simpson has taken, and can never be returned to us: " I value my happiness. I value how happy and content I am with my life. I value the memories that have made my life as happy as it is. I value my friends and family who make me happy and share my happiness with me. I value all the things that make me happy, like fun and relationships, but what I value most is the fact that I am happy because there are so many people who are not that lucky. I value my happiness the most because the friends and items that you have may change, and circumstances may change, but the fact that
I AM HAPPY WITH WHAT I HAVE
AND WHO I AM -
IS THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT
THAT I COULD EVER BE GIVEN!”

Having Saskia in our lives, and being a "complete" family was OUR MOST PRECIOUS GIFT, and truly made us happy! And inside this box Simpson has placed us in – of horror and terror, misery and pain, hopelessness and injustice, there simply "is" no happiness!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:54 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Relying on a dysfunctional system, forcibly held by it, and yet I can find no place for myself here! With limited options, which are beyond my control. AND YET THE FINAL DECISION? WILL DETERMINE THE FUTURE OF EVERYONE I LOVE. This alone, is a place that can make you loose your mind! A place of never ending terror!

And through it all, the sweet voice of my Saskia, that only I can hear now. Her words, of how SHE feels:
“ I could never forgive someone for taking away my rights, my home, my friends and my life! If things like this happened to me I would be resentful, rather than forgiving. I just couldn’t forgive the people who were so prejudiced that they made me lose my best friends, and school. Just the thought of losing them brings tears to my eyes. I couldn’t forgive the people who took away my parents rights as citizens. I couldn’t forgive the people who restricted my loved ones from doing the things they love. I couldn’t forgive those who made me leave my home. I wouldn’t be able to forgive them for MAKING ME SO SCARED OF THEM, I FROZE WITH FEAR EVERY TIME I HEARD A SOUND!”

Saskia’s thoughts, written just weeks before her murder, for an essay on Anne Frank. “Thinking that Anne forgave them for all that, is unbelievably saintly. Even though Anne was just a regular girl like me, she was more remarkable than anyone I have ever heard of! I wouldn’t be as forgiving and naïve. I would be resentful, for being so wronged!” I ran across this open page, sitting in her room amongst her unfinished homework. HER THOUGHTS, about an unspeakable horror and injustice. HER WORDS, that speak directly to William Gary Simpson, Saskia’s “NAZI”!

SASKIA’S PASSION – for her life, and her family and her friends! How Saskia has been so wronged! And knowing, her expectations of me, to never let her death be in vain! Knowing, that when I am finally free of this mess to go to her, she will know I did everything I could to take a stand, to affect change, to make a difference FOR HER in this world! She would expect nothing less from me. She would accept no other excuse from me for staying here, for forsaking her wishes for me to join her in death NOW!

I will spend every moment I continue to live hearing Saskia’s screams! And feeling guilty, for not taking my leave of this life to be with her. I am forever torn between two plains of reality – life, and death! Because I KNOW THE ANSWER, to the question everyone asks… “What would Saskia want me to do now?” I had this conversation with her once. She said to me “momma, if I were to die, I would want you there with me! Don’t wait a single second! Hurry, because I would need you to be there with me! I couldn’t stand to be alone!” Every second spent living, is spent forsaking my Saskia! I do not simply wish for death, I physically ache for it with every breath!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 7:55 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Revenge and Justice are all we ever hear, from everyone! It is all that is discussed with regard to the Victim, when looking at the Death Penalty. But I have a different perspective, from within this inadequate justice system we currently bear…
For there is truly no Revenge great enough,
No Justice powerful enough,
To make ANY DIFFERNCE AT ALL…

I have only my unique perspective as a MOTHER. I look down the road, at the possible future all my children may one day have… To a day when they have families, and children of their own… If he does not receive the DEATH PENALTY? I do not want them to be forced to revisit Saskia’s murder, forced ever again to see the face of William Gary Simpson, the monster who murdered her! Or worse, that somehow Gary is granted PAROLE, this wolf - in - sheep’s - clothing? That again in their future, my children would live in mortal fear for their lives? That William Gary Simpson, if given his freedom, would exact his revenge upon my children and my grandchildren?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 8 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

December 20, 2011

William Gary Simpson came into our home that morning, with the intention of killing my husband and three children, myself, and the 7 other children who were to be staying with us over Christmas break. Why? Because - he could not stand for us to have so much love in our home! He could not tolerate my children, and all the other children, being loved so unconditionally, the way he wanted his parents to love him. HE COVETED WHAT WE HAD…

When the DA asked me “why” he did not kill his own family, but targeted ours – I answered with my insightful truth. In the heart of every child, they have ‘hope’ that one day their parents ‘will’ love them unconditionally. Their parents will finally ‘see’ and ‘hear’ them. If Simpson had killed his own parents, he would never get those things that he wants so much! So he chose, instead, to take it from all of us…

December 20, 2011
William Gary Simpson came into our home that morning, with the intention of killing my husband and three children, myself, and the 7 other children who were to be staying with us over Christmas break. Why? Because - he could not stand for us to have so much love in our home! He could not tolerate my children, and all the other children, being loved so unconditionally, the way he wanted his parents to love him. HE COVETED WHAT WE HAD…

When the DA asked me “why” he did not kill his own family, but targeted ours – I answered with my insightful truth. In the heart of every child, they have ‘hope’ that one day their parents ‘will’ love them unconditionally. Their parents will finally ‘see’ and ‘hear’ them. If Simpson had killed his own parents, he would never get those things that he wants so much! So he chose, instead, to take it from all of us…

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 8:02 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

When mass murderer, William Gary Simpson entered our home the early hours of Dec. 20… He went into our son Ian's room first - the only bedroom downstairs. He thought, from the rumpled covers, Ian was in bed sleeping. He stabbed into them, only to discover Ian was not there. So, he placed the knife on the bed, and threw the covers back over it.

That was when Saskia went downstairs at 4am for a bottle of water! "AAHHHH!" Our entire house awoke to her screams! "AAAAHHHHH!” As I ran from my bedroom and encountered my 13-year-old daughter on the upstairs landing, I ordered her to stay there – ‘DON’T GO DOWNSTAIRS!’ "Daddyeee! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!" I ran downstairs, as Saskia continued to scream in pain and terror, "Daddyeeeeee!" "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHhhhh!", to discover Saskia already dead on the floor. And Simpson, standing over her with that 15-inch knife, dripping with her blood. My husband and another child tackled Simpson. I took away the murder weapon. I was going to grab the phone, and call for help, but the phone was missing. I ran out front, and screamed for help! All I could think of was getting help for my daughter! I threw down the murder weapon, and saw a man across the street getting into his truck. I screamed for him to call the police, we need an ambulance, MY DAUGHTER HAD BEEN STABBED! SHE MAY BE DEAD - I NEED HELP! And I ran back inside -
I did not know, Simpson had brought more weapons. I came back in to discover he had stabbed my husband (many times in the back, puncturing his lung), and to my horror, was standing over this child who was begging for his life, (Gary, you don’t have to do this! Please Gary!) and brought the knife down, severing the artery in his neck! I ran to stop him, but could not reach him in time... As he brought the blade down again severing the artery, and the blood shot out of his boy’s neck, and covered everything! I grabbed the blade as he brought it up the third time, and my husband tackled Simpson. I realized too much in that moment... I realized my Saskia was dead! I realized this boy and my husband were both going to die, as both were bleeding out... I realized, I was going to die. My 13-year-old daughter stood on the steps, hearing and watching all of this!
I will NEVER FORGET LOOKING INTO WILLIAM GARY SIMPSON’S SMILING FACE, THE HORROR OF REALIZING WHO HE WAS!!!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 8:03 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

I am Catherine Burke –
Mother of a Murdered Child – AND – Victim of Violent Crime!
I offer to each and every citizen, the true reason we should have the Death Penalty – PROTECTION!
"Indeed, the decision that capital punishment may be the appropriate sanction in extreme cases is an expression of the community's belief that certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death."
Protection is the only reason why we must vote NO on Proposition 34!

In a Mass Murderous attack upon the Burke family while they lay sleeping, my 18-year-old daughter, Saskia Savana Burke, was brutally stabbed to death here in our home December 20, 2011... Her murderer, William Gary Simpson, has been arrested and charged with Saskia’s murder, 2 counts attempted murder, several counts of special circumstances including lying in wait.
HE IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE DEATH PENALTY.

William Gary Simpson took our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness when he CHOSE to commit mass murder. He took these rights from us, FOREVER when he murdered Saskia!

I would have never thought, I would find myself to be the mother of a murdered child, the victim of a heinous, violent crime. We were Once the Burke’s – good, moral parents, who raised our children in a very loving home. Our murderer, coveted that love we had… Our murderer, was a friend of our son's - a friend to our family, for over 10 years... Ten years of birthday parties, Christmas vacations, summer sleepovers and pool parties. Ten years of classes with our son, fieldtrips, lunches and recess... Ten years, of paintball games and 4th of July fireworks, of hanging out and playing Rock Band in our living room... Our murderer was raised by his mother in a privileged home, attended the same good schools as our children, and he received good grades. I could have never thought he would plan and practice for almost 1 year, to come into our home with a duffle bag full of knives 4 days before Christmas (after hiding in an empty nearby home waiting for all our children to come home), to murder us all! He slashed and stabbed my daughter to death, when she went downstairs for a bottle of water at 4am...

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CatBurke'

CatBurke | October 8, 2012 at 8:24 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Chris, you forgot to mention one of the MOST MISLEADING FACTS OF ALL...
Life in Prison, is not for the lifetime of the murderer! After 25 years or so, EACH CASE is looked at again... And too many times, a judge has OVERTURNED THE VERDICT and given the murderer the opportunity for PAROLE. Which means, VICTIMS once again must face their murderer, and relive ALL that happened to them, to fight to keep their murderer behind bars... And they must do this, every 2-5 years, for as long as their MURDERER lives !

And, sometimes the murderer is GIVEN PAROLE...
Set free, to walk amongst ALL OF YOU in society again ! Free, to roam amongst all of YOUR CHILDREN ! Free, to kill again whenever they choose...

Mass Murderer William Gary Simpson coveted killing US for over 1 year... He is behind bars now, but WE will never be SAFE until he is DEAD... He will never stop coveting us... If someone is going to die, I'd rather it be him - than ANOTHER CHILD OF MINE!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Willard'

Willard | October 8, 2012 at 11:14 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

End Capital Punishment
The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights. By working towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International aims to end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias and tainted by human error.
Amnesty International campaigns to abolish the death penalty in the USA by focusing on individual cases of injustice, supporting work for death penalty repeal efforts in the states, and educating campuses and communities about the fatally flawed nature of our capital punishment system.
http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/campaigns/abolish-the-death-penalty

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Willard'

Willard | October 8, 2012 at 11:14 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago


Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were released from death row.
http://www.deathpenalty.org/

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Willard'

Willard | October 8, 2012 at 11:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The death penalty "is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity," the Vatican said in a position paper.
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0700736.htm

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 8, 2012 at 11:57 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Willard is now citing the Vatican? You're really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I'm actually with you on abolishing the death penalty, but not for the same reasons.

1. If you're on death row in California, you only have a 1% chance of having the punishment actually carried out. So why pretend to have it?

2. It costs way too much to keep criminals on death row.

3. Death by lethal injection is the easy, painless way out and contrast that with what their victims went through.

Solution:

Solitary confinement, no TV, no gym, and the same flavorless gruel for the rest of their lives. That would be a more appropriate punishment to match their crimes.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 9, 2012 at 7:47 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

CD,
I agree that the efficiency of the system has a very poor showing, but what makes you think it cannot be rectified?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 9, 2012 at 1:22 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Benz,

One word:

Lawyers.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Willard'

Willard | October 9, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

"In my own experience, I know of four persons convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death, who were later found to be innocent . . . long after the appellate process had been exhausted"
Harry Fogle, Chief Judge of VI Judicial Circuit, Florida
"I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial"
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
"The system is not working....Innocent people are being sentenced to death."
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison II
http://www.fdp.dk/index.html#news1

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 10, 2012 at 7:55 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

CD, I'm sorry but that seems a little vague. Lawyers appear to make most of the legal system cumbersome and only marginally sensible. That does not imply that we should stop having one (legal system that is... a system with no lawyers would be interesting to comtemplate).

Do you see a specific barrier to reasonable implementation?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 10, 2012 at 1:38 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Benz,

The barrier is the excessive use of the appellate system. As we know, truth is irrelevant to defense lawyers. They're only concerned with winning their case, even if aware the person is guilty.

However, I'm opposed to the death penalty based on the three reasons I already listed, although I like to add a 4th:

The Death Penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime.

We need an effective punishment that is a true deterrent to crime, especially violent crime. Conditions in US prisons are CLEARLY not.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 11, 2012 at 7:18 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

While I agree that current prison conditions are not effectively deterring crime I fail to see how removing the threat of execution enhances their deterrent effect in any way. Is there some other part of the proposal that does enhance deterrence?

Similarly, execution is 100% effective in preventing recidivism by criminals who have committed crimes so heinous that we cannot risk recurrence.

I am also not convinced the adversarial judicial system is a useful way to establish truth. I just wish I had a better idea to replace it with. Perhaps more judicial leeway to enforce common sense... But that drives towards unequal application of the law.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Tom Fudge'

Tom Fudge, KPBS Staff | October 11, 2012 at 9:57 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm blown away by the reaction to my story about the death penalty, though I shouldn't be surprised. Here are some of my feelings... The California death penalty is a joke, and it's a joke we tell on victims' families. If justice delayed is justice denied, then we are denying justice to the majority of families who were victimized by death-row inmates. They don't die from execution, they die from old age!

Being a reporter I can't tell how I will vote on Prop 34, but something clearly needs to be done. We need to either repair the death penalty or get rid of it. I was interested to see someone suggest that the people who commit our worst crimes should not be killed, but kept in miserable conditions. To some extent, that is the system we have, where death row inmates are single-celled and denied the freedom to move and socialize that other inmates have.

Basically, we have to decide as a society what will be our "ultimate" punishment. If there are crimes so heinous that they deserve an extra measure of punishment... raping and murdering a child, for instance... what should that punishment be? Death? Extended solitary confinement? Or simply life in prison without the possibility of parole? We have to make a decision of what our values truly are, and find a feasible way to apply them to the criminal justice system.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 11, 2012 at 12:17 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Tom, thanks for joining the debate! We all value your insight.

I can't agree with you more that something needs to be done to repair the death penalty or abolish it. I think that is a widely held view.

But I disagree that death row inmates are kept in miserable conditions. Nor is miserable the goal. Unstimulating would be more appropriate. Basic conditions for life should be maintained (food, water, and shelter) but their environment should not resemble a cheap motel room as it does now.

They have TVs, can receive and write letters with the general public, enjoy playing baseball and basketball with other inmates, have access to a gym, and can decorate their cell and purchase specialty items from the canteen.

Articles about life on California's death row:
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2009/04/22/693345/rex-krebs-life-on-death-row-at.html and
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/06/inside-scott-peterson-life-on-california-death-row/

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 11, 2012 at 12:42 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Benz,

You just made the best possible argument for the death penalty:

"...execution is 100% effective in preventing recidivism..."

But I am still not convinced that it serves as a deterrent. It seems to be a blessing for many convicts of heinous crimes who welcome the escape. I also don't see any difference in crime rates in states with capital punishment vs. those that have abolished it.

I also find it quite peculiar that we allow physician assisted suicide for criminals, but not the terminally ill who desire it.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 11, 2012 at 10:56 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Benz: "Similarly, execution is 100% effective in preventing recidivism by criminals who have committed crimes so heinous that we cannot risk recurrence."

But can we guarantee 100% that every person sentenced to death is actually guilty?

No, there have been exonerations.

Those saying don't abolish it but "fix" it seem to define "fix" as speeding it up and killing the criminal quicker.

That doesn't fix anything, it only increases the chances someone innocent will be killed.

CA defender, I don't agree with you on DeMaio and Romney, but you made some good points here.

I honestly have always been against the death penalty but have felt guilty voting against it because I have not had a loved one murdered and have heard some say it brings closure. I was really torn on how to vote here because I don't want to deny closure for victims even though I believe state-sponsored executions to be fundamentally and morally wrong.

It was an interview I watched on KPBS a couple nights ago that enabled me to decide in finality that I will vote in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

Ronnie Carmona lost her son to someone who ran over him with a car.

She supports this measure.

She said, "To those who say the death penalty brings closure, there is no closure When you lose a loved on that way".

It was a very powerful interview and it shows that not all victims who have lost loved ones to criminals support the death penalty despite the media selling that way (and kudos to KPBS for including Ms. Carmona's interview in the discussion).

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 12, 2012 at 7:21 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

PDSD, of course no legal system can guarantee 100% accuracy. If that is the requirement for enacting a punishment then we should not be in the punishment business. Digging into that argument a little deeper, I have been told that execution cannot be reversed. This is true. It is also true that incarceration cannot be reversed, it can only be ended.

Fundamentally, the question becomes whether someone is worth saving for later. If a criminal is convicted and sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole and the inevitable appeals to that conviction are upheld then what are we keeping them for? Cruel or not, stimulating or not, satisfying to the victims and family or not, the practice wastes space and money. Permanent removal will help relieve (if only very slightly) an overburdened system. There are plenty of good people out there, no need to save the rotten ones.

As to deterrent, CD I think we may be talking past each other. If you do not believe capital punishment acts as a deterrent to crime (and you cite reasonable arguments that it may not, but not overwhelmingly convincing ones) how do you see the cessation of capital punishment bettering the deterrent effect of the laws you do support? To put it another way, what measures, laws and punishments do you think are appropriate to deter criminals?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 12, 2012 at 11:28 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

CA Off, you criticez poster Willard for citing a Vatican-related source, then you go ahead and post . . . FAUX News???!!! What the faux!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 12, 2012 at 12:23 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Duck,

I'm on the fence too. This is a really hard decision as there is no going back. Once abolished, you can't re-sentence of death. Prop 34 should not apply to the 725 people on death row, only to future cases, which is why I'm leaning towards a no vote.

Benz,

I don't see the abolition of the death penalty as a deterrent. It is so rarely applied that it has little effect either way. If the state suddenly executed all 725 death row inmates tomorrow and promised that all future executions would be completed 30 days from conviction, that would have an effect, but not much. Rather, make capital punishment a living death. No stimulus, no interaction, just eat and sleep. Nothing more. That would be worse than death and an effective deterrent.

Mission,

That is the first time I've ever linked Fox News and I had to control a gag reflex to do so. But it was a simple transcript of an interview and didn't appear to be biased.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 12, 2012 at 3:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Ah, that makes more sense to me.
Do you believe we can enact such a sensory-deprivation kind of punishment? would it be labeled as cruel or unusual?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 12, 2012 at 7:38 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Good question. I wouldn't call it sensory-deprivation, just routine. I would guess that any future effort to alter the conditions of life convicts (like taking away TVs) would be met with lawsuits by the ACLU. Especially considering that the ACLU has been heavily funding Prop 34 along with several out-of-state special interest groups, that worries me.

Perhaps the ACLU will push a proposition to abolish life sentences next.

I think you've convinced me that it is best to vote no on 34 until the state comes up with an appropriate replacement first.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Oceanside'

Oceanside | October 12, 2012 at 10:46 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

To Mrs. Catherine Burke,

I just wanted to say how deeply saddened I was to read this, I just cannot imagine what you have gone through.

I also want to say that I feel capital punishment is justified for those who commit the most henious of crimes when there really is no doubt about the guilt of the defendant. And I think there are cases where there really is no doubt. Yours sounds like it may be one of them. My opinion is that some of these crimes, these murders, are so vicious and savage, that the murderer is deserving of death. We should strive for a system that relentlessly pursues justice, and in some cases death is justice.

Oceanside

( | suggest removal )