A federal judge last month ruled that California’s death penalty was unconstitutional because it took so long to execute prisoners who have been condemned to death. In 2008, the Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice estimated that the state would have to spend an additional $232.7 million annually to fund an efficient court system to handle death penalty cases. We asked the question: Should California spend the money to fully fund the death penalty?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
State lacks will to follow federal model
Re “Defense lawyer leads death penalty to abyss” (Forum, Dan Morain, July 27): The California death penalty has collapsed under its own weight due to a total lack of discipline in its invocation. For almost four decades, 52 county prosecutors have each applied their own changing standard. Decisions have been driven by personal ambition, philosophy and local politics, never by affordability. The Legislature has shown its true feelings by refusing to fund such a flawed, dysfunctional system.
The model for a working death penalty system found in federal law has been purposely ignored. The U.S. attorney general must personally authorize seeking death. Both sides of a case are allowed to first provide information and offer argument. This system has worked fairly and efficiently under attorney generals of both parties.
California does not have the integrity or the will to adopt such an approach. Thus, there is little alternative to throwing the whole thing out.
Laurance S. Smith, Sacramento
Victim’s rights seem to come second
Why does the victim’s right always seem to count second over the killer’s rights? The killer showed no mercy to his or her victim when they killed them, and yet some get upset because it takes two hours for the killer to die.
Put the death penalty into action and make it work; put the killer to death the same way he or she killed. What goes around comes around. Voters have approved the death penalty; just start putting it into action and give the victims some justice. A killer should no longer be breathing especially when the victim isn’t.
Kathy Winkelman, Sacramento