Have we seen the last California execution?


A judge in Marin has tossed out the current execution protocol, putting all executions in the state on hold -- and potentially delaying any more state-sponsored killing until after November, when the voters will have a chance to end the death penalty for good.

So it may be that this gruesome and pointless farce has come to an end. It may be that California is ready to join the civilized world. It may be that the state is ready to save billions (yes, I said billions) of dollars by replacing death with life without parole. Which is effectively what we have now -- the number one cause of death on Death Row is old age.

State Sen. Mark Leno noted at the San Francisco Tomorrow holiday party Dec. 14 that life without parole "means exactly that" -- since that sentence has been adopted, not one person facing LWOP in California has ever been released. The one exception: People who turned out to be innocent. Fortunately, innocent people serving life sentences can still have a chance.


than sentencing someone to death? Do you have any idea of what it's like to be a lifer - to know that you'll never get out of prison, that you'll never see anything beyond those four walls to which you're consigned until you die?

I'm trying to figure out your rationale here. Either you believe warehousing people in prison until they croak is a kinder, gentler option to executing them. Or you believe in and celebrate the cruelty of consigning people to life in California's penal system. Either way you're fucked up.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

I sure think we should do what is cheapest. Either way, kill or custody - costs millions. We need to do it cheaper.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

It's an interesting question, and if it were up to me -- right now, on the outside, not really facing the choice -- I could see how I might say: Just kill me now. I'm not living like that.

But people in prison don't want to die. Psychologists have studied this at length and very few people would actually be executed rather than being able to live -- albeit not live a wonderful life.

Besides, killing people is a barbarian practice, one that shouldn't be condoned by any civilized society. And there's always the chance that an innocent person can be wrongly convicted (it happens fairly often, actually) -- and if that person is executed, there's no chance for him or her to later prove innocence.


Posted by tim on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

I'm not a big fan of LWOP. I think most people have a chance to change and that life without parole assumes that they're just evil forever. But for murderers who would be eligible for the death penalty, LWOP is a better option.

Posted by tim on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

I don't have a problem with the death penalty as long as there is a abundance of evidence to prove a suspects guilt. I'm not comfortable with the idea of killing someone, who could potentially be innocent of murder.
There are people whose guilt can and have been proven of heinous crimes against innocent victims, and those are the people I feel should be executed. If you purposely take the life of another out of greed, drugs, or jealousy then I feel the death penalty is justifiable. There are too many people sitting behind bars who have murdered innocent victims, why should tax payers support those losers because a few Christian's feel it is "the humane" thing to do. What about victims whose lives have been snatched from them prematurely? what about the victims family's? Why should I have to pay to house, feed, bath, and entertain murders? What's wrong with you people! with you so called Christian's? get over yourselves! and stop forcing everyone else to bend to your will.
I say bring back the gas chamber and make it quick! These murders have squeezed enough money out me and their victims families. As a matter of fact whatever happened to the electric-chair?

Posted by Guest Loanne on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

Study after study has established that the death penalty costs substantially more than LWOP. A report issued on this very topic last year. Just on the economics, the death penalty makes no sense.


"The state's 714 death row prisoners cost $184 million more per year than those sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A death penalty prosecution costs up to 20 times as much as a life-without-parole case."

Posted by The Commish on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

Freedom isn't free, as all you conservatives like to say. If you want freedom, if you want justice and not just a police state, you need to pay for it.

Take this man, recently cleared of the brutal rape and murder of an eleven year old girl:

Three times he was tried for the killing. Three times our system of "justice" somehow managed to find this totally innocent man "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." There was such an "abundance of evidence" that he was convicted three times.

And yet he was totally innocent.

Thank god we don't have the kind of "cheap" "justice" Loanne is talking about above. Thank god we still have what conservatives like to call "endless appeals" -in reality, hardly endless, but it's better than nothing! Thank god we spend at least some money to make sure prisoners have their day in court, rather than try them in some kangaroo court and then execute them right after trial like they do in third world dictatorships.

If we did what the advocates of death want us to do, the state would have long ago murdered this innocent human being. As it is, the state destroyed 20 years of this man's life, not to mention the fact that someone else raped and murdered an eleven year old girl and that someone is walking around scot free. But to the advocates of death, none of this matters. Even now there are people who are probably sorry that this innocent man will be released, because their thirst for blood has not been satisfied.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 12:50 am

If you want a 100% error-free conviction rate then you should shut down the entire justice system and then set everyone free. Because that standard is not achievable.

Sometimes mistakes are made. The system is not error-free and the Supreme Court has ruled that it doesn't have to be error-free for the death penalty to be imposed.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 10:36 am

Maybe "oh well, shit happens" is good enough for you, but it's not good enough for me, and it certainly isn't justice. I subscribe to the ancient principle that it is better to let ten guilty men go free than let one innocent go to the gallows. The Supreme Court has made many rulings that are now universally accepted as backwards and wrong. They've even let innocent people get murdered simply because they've exhausted their appeals. Someday this country will see that for the insane barbarism which it is, just as the rest of the civilized world already does.

Until then, it's a political decision. There's enough political will to block the right wing from making the death penalty quick and cheap (and even more unjust than it already is). So given that it's so expensive, there's been no better time in history to convince those who aren't ready to get rid of it in the interests of justice, to at least get rid of it in the interests of economics.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

by itself the sole determinant of whether we should have capital punishment. If the deterrant effect saves more lives then it may be worthwhile overall.

It's a complex question and, since I don't hold a strong view on it either way, I'm happy to let the voters of each State decide for itself, which is the current situation.

I suspect a majority of CA voters wish to retain the death penalty for a variety of heinous crimes.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2011 @ 10:34 am

Mistakes happen??? I disagree. Mistakes are made, and worse, scapegoats are railroaded by corrupt persecutors. I didn't make a spelling error.
When I read your callous post, Guest, I felt tremendously angry that a citizen of a country that had once believed as a nation so strongly in the principles of LIberty that our predecessors fought terrible wars to protect peoples of foreign nations against the likes of people who thought just like you. Knowing a little something about the subject of the death penalty, and fueled by my anger, I did an Internet search that took me about two minutes, something that you might consider the next time you decide to write about something that you clearly do not understand. I quote; "A study by Columbia University professor James Liebman examined thousands of capital sentences that had been reviewed by courts in 34 states from 1973 to 1995...""One in twenty death row inmates is later found not guilty.""
I wonder, though, is it ignorance, lack of compassion, or is it fear and loathing that drove you to write what you did?
The writer of the article I just quoted had this to say:
"Even the most ardent proponent of capital punishment has no tolerance for the execution of innocent people. The exoneration of 113 death row inmates undoubtedly demonstrates that the capital punishment system is in desperate need of reform."
Judging by your truly dark letter, I guess he's something of a Polyanna, huh?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Not at all. That concept, as bourgeois and false as it is, matters not at all to me.

There's actually very little "history of liberty" in this country. Your use of cliches to support your case indicates that you clearly know very little about this subject.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 17, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

In Conn an entire family was killed in a barbaric fashion by two psychos. The victims deserve the ultimate punishment of death by execution of the perpetrators in very short order. The likes of Charles Manson--and countless others--should not be haunting the victims 40 plus years after the crime. Outlawing the death penalty is short sighted; a perpetrator's natural death in prison gives the perpetrator final victory over the victim.

Posted by StevenTorrey on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 8:44 am

Tell me.. Why?

Why do these incredibly messed up and twisted damaged shells of human beings who committed these terrible crimes deserve the death penalty...?

One would think that they would deserve something exactly the opposite.

To placed in a caring facility where they can no longer hurt anyone, and then be given the best and most loving and warm mental health care imaginable to try to bring them feelings of humanity and caring and compassion which they have likely never once truly experienced in their entire lives.

Someone like you, who crows for the cold death of such incredibly unfortunate people, ought to go look in the mirror and look himself in the eye, and consider the fact that such a heartless impulse of desiring chilling state violence toward such deeply harmed and wounded people, makes you far more failed a human being than they are.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 9:10 am

The only thing worse than some of these sick, violent villians is the inevitable white liberal rationalization of them, which give them the confidence to commit more crimes.

It's called punishment for a reason. We get them of the street and we punish them commensurate with the crime. Keep your touchy-feely new-agey crap to yourself or Green Party meetings.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 11:10 am

It amazes me that you do not grasp that your own psychotic impulse to see these people horrifically murdered by the state is just as mentally disturbed and dangerous as the murderers you so vehemently despise.

In adopting this world view, you simply become the very violent perpetrator that you seek to hate.

Moreover you deeply threaten democracy. There is no more powerful danger to democracy than a state that is legally allowed to kill its own people.

Especially now that the federal government has recently gained the power to both imprison and assassinate U.S. citizens without charge or trial.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 11:46 am

capital punishment. So are you saying that most Americans are "psychotic", "dangerous" and "mentally disturbed"?

This is what always gets me about the left. They can't just disagree - they have to label and abuse anyone who disagrees. The intolerance of progressive politics stuns me. You're all touchy-feely about brutal rapists and murderers and child molestors, but you hate Republicans with a near homicidal intensity.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

That is exactly what I am saying.

Decades of pro war, pro extreme violence propaganda has turned the U.S. into a nation of violence prone psychotics; and widespread support for the death penalty proves this.

And where in my comments did I say I hate Republicans or anyone else?

I simply accurately pointed out that murderers should be kept away from others and then helped instead of being murdered. If we murder them, we become the same. I would think that this obvious truth is self evident.

In fact, there was no homicidal intensity at all in my comments, and your saying so just proves that you are using standard issue (and boring) right wing deceptive debate tactics instead of engaging in real dialogue.

If you're going to be a ditto head, go blog on Rush Limbaugh's site where you belong.

Here, we seek to engage in actual conversation.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

In fact, I'm neutral/agnostic on the issue. My take is that for those types of crimes, the perp should never be allowed back in society. Whether that happens thru execution or life without parole doesn't concern me so much. And if it's cheaper to lock them up and throw away the key, then so be it.

But accusing those who disagree with you as being "psychotic" etc. isn't helpful.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 1:14 pm