California Forum

The Conversation: Feedback on the death penalty

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?


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

From Facebook

Renee Kerchner – What should happen to them? Should we just support them for life? Should they get a second chance to kill again? Why is it that everyone always feels so bad for them but seem to forget about the victims and the families?

Benjamin Gazzi – Why is this such a hard concept to grasp? Nobody feels bad about a mass shooter getting the death penalty; people feel bad about innocent people being sentenced and put to death. If there’s a chance that an innocent person could be convicted in our legal system, we have a responsibility to do something about it, even more so when the person is being sentenced to death.

Ha Lor – One bullet, one shot and, bam, it’s done. I don’t know why it’s so hard. All these monsters did horrible crimes to their victims, and yet we care about them.

Teaeli Anderson – I would rather spend money on carrying out the death penalty than feeding and housing these monsters for the rest of their lives.

Melissa Nappan – We can’t fix the death penalty. We can’t fix the racism inherent in the system and the arbitrariness of who receives the ultimate penalty and who does not. We can’t make it perfect so that an innocent person does not get convicted. Speeding up the appellate process only increases the chances that an innocent person will die, or that people will be sent to death row who do not belong there. It is time to recognize this, abolish the death penalty and utilize the vast resources currently wasted on trying to execute a few and put those resources toward mental health care and crime prevention.