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June 9, 2013

After Night Stalker's demise, new talk of new initiative to kick start machinery of death in California

This new local article, which carries the amusing headlined "Initiative supporters want to bring California death penalty back to life," discusses what seems to be a serious effort by some serious folks to use a ballot initiative to try to get the death penalty operational again in the state with the largest death row in this nation.  Here are the basics:

Frustrated by a recent appeals court ruling that invalidates the state's lethal injection procedures, supporters of the death penalty in California plan to launch a campaign to bring the suspended system back to life.

Death penalty supporters hope to circumvent legal challenges to executions through a new initiative that would put in place a single-drug injection procedure for inmates condemned to death, such as the infamous Night Stalker serial killer Richard Ramirez, who died Friday of natural causes.

Advocates of the single-injection protocol seek to avoid supply and legal issues related to the triple-drug protocol used prior to a 2006 moratorium on the death penalty. The ballot initiative would also reform the appellate process to ensure executions for Death Row inmates who have exhausted all appeals and where questions of guilt don't exist.

The proposed initiative would be carried by a coalition of law enforcement, district attorneys, and death penalty proponents who opposed Proposition 34 in the 2012 statewide election. That measure, defeated by 52 percent of voters, would have abolished the death penalty and replaced it with life in prison without parole.

"The initiative will be to streamline and fix the death penalty," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, a vocal presence during the campaign opposing Proposition 34. "As the voters have indicated, they still believe in capital punishment, and as I asked the voters to oppose Proposition 34, I told them I would do anything I could to fix the issue of delayed justice," Ramos said. "That's what happens with these families. It's not justice if it's delayed, especially in these most gruesome murders."

Legal challenges to execution procedures, raised in both state and federal courts, led to a moratorium on executions in California that has been in place since 2006. More than 725 Death Row inmates await execution, while more than a dozen who have exhausted legal appeals are eligible for immediate execution. Ramirez, convicted in 1989, was among them before his death Friday from liver failure at the age of 53....

Michael Rushford, president of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said his group will be involved in the initiative campaign, as it had been against Proposition 34. The hope is to get the measure on the ballot for the next statewide election on June 3, 2014. "We want to implement the same process that the state of Virginia and other states have implemented for these cases to be resolved in six years," Rushford said. "California is unique in the United States. We have the longest, most-drawn-out process."

Anti-death penalty groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of California, argue the policy is much too costly for the taxpayers, and the risk remains of wrongfully executing an innocent person. The ACLU of California is still planning its next move after the defeat of the 2012 ballot measure.

"We are still deciding what our next step will be," said Ana Zamora, senior policy advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union of California. "We know the problem will not be fixed. It doesn't reduce violent crime, and Californians are extremely concerned about the real risk of executing an innocent person." Zamora said, despite the loss on Proposition 34, the close vote is cause for encouragement....

Zamora called Ramirez's death from natural causes on Friday, "a perfect example" of the "broken death penalty." "People on California's Death Row are more likely to die of old age or illness than they are likely to die from execution," she said. "The death penalty is absolutely a charade."

June 9, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

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Comments

How can one with a straight face, do absolutely everything imaginable to make the death penalty process expensive, lengthy,
and to try to block each means to implement or to improve it, yet contemporaneously claim that it is:
"too costly for the taxpayers" . . "[a] broken death penalty" . . "absolutely a charade"
? ? ?
I recall 'progresives' fighting improvements just recently:
--> "CA Bill to Streamline Death Penalty in Length and Expense Defeated in Party Line Vote ... after ACLU-subsidiary's attack
on Senate Bill 779" (2013)
--> "Californians Vote to Retain the Death Penalty ... campaign will continue to abolish the death penalty ... and this one raised more than $7 million compared to a few hundred [death penalty supporters] gathered." (2012)

With a straight face?

I guess the rub is: Meet the ACLU! ? !
~ mercurynews.com

Posted by: Adamakis | Jun 10, 2013 12:16:59 PM

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