The Slow Demise of DEATH PENALTY


No death penalty
No death penalty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard C. Dieter

The Slow Demise of the Death Penalty

Posted: 11/12/2012 12:08 pm
The death penalty in California survived by a narrow vote on November 6, but around the country the signs are clear that capital punishment is slowly on the way out. Even in California, the close defeat of the referendum to repeal the death penalty marks a significant milestone: in a state where almost three-quarters of the people supported the death penalty 30 years ago, now almost half the voters want it replaced. (Video version of this post here.)

Although California’s recent vote means the death penalty will remain, the 47% of voters who favored replacing it indicates many Californians have had a change of heart regarding capital punishment. By contrast, the initiative that reinstated the death penalty in 1978 garnered the support of 71% of voters. In 1986, California’s Chief Justice, Rose Bird, was removed from office by 67% of voters because she was perceived as blocking the death penalty.

Nationally, support for the death penalty has seen a similar decline. According to a 1994 Gallup Poll, 80% of respondents supported the death penalty, compared to only 61% in 2011. Moreover, when respondents aregiven alternative choices such as life without parole, support for the death penalty falls below 50%.

Around the country, new death sentences dropped to 78 in 2011, representing a dramatic 75% decline since 1996, when 315 individuals were sentenced to death. It was the first time since 1976 that the country produced fewer than 100 death sentences in a single year. Executions also have steadily decreased nationwide, with 43 in 2011 and 46 in 2010, representing a 56% decline since 1999, when there were 98.

Despite the outcome of Proposition 34, the future of the death penalty in California remains questionable. It will take hundreds of millions of dollars just to continue the death penalty in its current broken fashion – money the state doesn’t have. Much more will be needed if the state wants to have a system with timely and adequate representation.

California’s use of the death penalty has declined in recent years: the state has not carried out an execution since 2006, and death sentences have dropped from 40 in 1981 to only 10 in 2011. Executions are not likely to resume soon because key issues remain unresolved. Questions related to California’s lethal injection process linger in state and federal courts, and challenges to the overall fairness of the death penalty are still being considered.

Gil Garcetti, the former District Attorney of Los Angeles, shifted his position on the death penalty when he became aware of flaws in the system. A leading proponent of Proposition 34, Garcetti said, “Much like millions of other voters, I changed my mind on the death penalty when I understood that it serves no useful purpose, that spending $184 million annually on it is obscenely expensive, and that some of California’s condemned are likely to be innocent.”

Around the country and around the world, the use of the death penalty is in decline. In the U.S., five states in the past five years have ended capital punishment, and more are likely to do so in the near future. The divided vote on Proposition 34 indicates that the machinery of capital punishment may not grind to a halt all at once. But the signs of its demise are clearly on the horizon.


Richard C. Dieter is the Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center.


Calif. Leads the Nation in Wrongful convitions – I would know”: Franky Carrillo

whole article there, pleas read it and download that pdf from that link mentioned some lines later!

Exonerated of murder after 20 years in prison

Posted: 11/05/2012 9:18 am
A new project at UC Berkeley Law School, the California Wrongful Convictions Project, has been studying the problem of innocent people in California convicted of crimes they did not commit, and they’ve just released their findings [PDF]. I wish I could say I was shocked by what they found.

California currently leads the nation in wrongful convictions. With more than 200 innocent people locked up for crimes they did not commit since 1989, and 123 exonerations, California exceeds every other state in the U.S. when it comes to this dubious distinction.

This came as no surprise to me. I was one of those 200 innocent people.

I was locked up more than 20 years ago for a murder I did not commit and last year, I was finally able to prove my innocence and was released. Including my 20 years, the total amount of time spent in prison by innocent people in California is 1,311 years.

Ever since I was released, I’ve been traveling around the state urging voters to vote YES on Proposition 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison because of the risk of executing an innocent person. I know first-hand that innocent men and women can be convicted of terrible things they had nothing to do with, and that the death penalty always will run the awful risk of executing one of those people. It could have been me.

In all my speaking around the state, I often encounter the attitude that wrongful executions and wrongful convictions are not a California problem. After all, the most publicized cases of possible wrongful executions — like Cameron Todd Willingham, Carlos DeLuna or Troy Davis — all take place in states like Texas and Georgia.

But this new report confirms what I always knew: that wrongful convictions can and do happen right here in California. In fact, they happen more often here than anywhere else.

That’s why it’s so important for California to vote YES on 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole. The death penalty will always risk executing an innocent person, there’s simply no way we can have a perfect system that never makes mistakes. And this report reveals we’re doing even worse than we thought — worse than every other state — when it comes to ensuring we only convict the guilty. How can we risk executions after seeing this staggering error rate?

Replacing the death penalty is the only way we can guarantee that we will never make this fatal mistake in California. Life in prison with no chance of parole means convicted killers stay behind bars forever where they can no longer threaten our communities — but if someone is innocent, they will have the opportunity to prove it.

With the death penalty, mistakes are irreversible. YES on 34 means there’s room to correct them. Please join me in voting YES on 34 to replace the death penalty with justice that works for everyone in California.

YOU could make a huge difference: Prop34 to replace CALIFORNIA´S DEATH PENALTY

[California delegates cheering on stagecoach a...
[California delegates cheering on stagecoach at the 1912 Republican National Convention held at the Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, June 18-22, 1912] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Help us replace the death penalty!

Dear Friend,

Prop 34 to replace California’s death penalty is surging in the polls, and momentum is on our side!

A wide range of endorsers — 1,464 in total, including the state’s biggest newspapers, law enforcement, victims’ families, faith and community leaders, and more — have already lined up behind our initiative for justice that works in California. But we can’t stop now.

Millions of voters are still undecided on Prop 34 — and a personal recommendation from a friend or family member like you could really make a huge difference.

Click here to share the image below with your friends on Facebook, post to Twitter — or just forward this email to every California voter you know. *

Share this image now!


These millions of undecided voters hold the key to Prop 34. If we sway enough of them in these final 100 hours, we’ll win. If we don’t, we’ll lose.

It’s really that simple — and it all comes down to these final days.

One of the biggest questions these undecided voters are asking is, “Who supports Prop. 34?”

And you can tell them.

Share this image on Facebook so all your friends know that 1,464 endorsers — from the Los Angeles Times to the California Catholic Conference to the California Nurses Association — all support Prop 34 to replace the death penalty with justice that works for everyone.

With your support — and a few clicks of your mouse right now — I know we can win a huge victory for California by passing Prop 34.

Don’t forget to head to the polls and VOTE on Tuesday!



Natasha Minsker
Campaign Manager
Yes on 34

    *(please, note: perhaps You have to move to the original-website)


"Justice for All? Artists Reflect on the ...
“Justice for All? Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty”, May 6–22, 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear …… ,

In less than four weeks California will vote on Prop. 34, which would end the state’s death penalty.

Do you want to see Prop. 34 pass?

Do you have a computer with internet access and a phone?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both of those questions then you possess the secret weapons needed to influence the outcome of the vote.

The single-most effective way get out the “yes” votes is to have one-on-one conversations with voters. California has 17 million voters, and that’s a lot of conversations. We need your help.

Join a ‘Yes’ on 34 phone bank team today.*

Onward to Justice,
On behalf of all of EJUSA

*Once you sign up you’ll hear directly from our friends at SAFE California the day before your phone bank with instructions to get set up. Thanks for all you do.

Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national organization working to build a criminal justice system that is fair, effective, and responsive to everyone impacted by crime. Will you help us build this movement?