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September 7, 2010

"Death penalty remains big issue in California"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new piece at Stateline.org, which is focused on how the issue of the death could impact the election for attorney general in California.  Here is how the piece begins:

California’s next attorney general will have a full plate.  He or she will have to deal with a federal court challenge on prison overcrowding, a continuing battle over gay marriage, how to proceed if a marijuana-legalization ballot measure passes, and whether to follow other states in cracking down on illegal immigration and implementing, or challenging, the newly passed health care bill. And all of this is in addition to the ordinary workload of judicial appeals, general litigation, and environmental and consumer protection cases.

Despite the breadth of this portfolio, California voters have historically focused on one issue above all others when voting for attorney general — namely, how tough the candidate is on crime, even though it’s local DAs, rather than the AG, who are actually responsible for criminal prosecutions.

And despite California’s reputation as a liberal state, its voters, all other things equal, like their AGs to be as hard-line on crime as possible, particularly in how they feel about the death penalty.  In a July 2010 Field Poll, 70 percent of Californians said they support the legality of the death penalty.  So any candidate seen as soft on the issue starts in a hole.

That’s why in this historically Democratic state, the Democratic candidate for AG, a twice-elected San Francisco district attorney, Kamala Harris, is widely thought to face an uphill battle in November against Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley.  In contrast to Cooley, who is an unambiguous supporter of the death penalty, Harris personally opposes capital punishment, typically favoring life without parole.

Harris has pledged to carry out capital punishment whenever her office handles a death row appeal, the same stance as current Democratic AG (and gubernatorial nominee) Jerry Brown, who also personally opposes the death penalty.  But Harris’ reputation for hesitancy in seeking capital punishment could be one of the biggest challenges she’ll face on the campaign trail.

September 7, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Permalink


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I think for serious crimes where there is no doubt that somebody did actually carry out the crime, then maybe there should be a death penalty.

Posted by: Adults Toys | Sep 8, 2010 3:18:40 AM

In the article there is this quote: "Harris, says campaign manager Brian Brokaw, has “made a career of looking murderers and rapists in the eye and made sure they spend every last day on earth in prison.'"

Name one MURDERER and not as the DA where you do not personally go into court. As much as I want to be objective and vote for the best AG candidate, Harris is so incredibly dishonest in her claims about the death penalty and murderers, it is impossible for me to look at anything else. I guess the article and the professor's post is well taken, the death penalty appears to impact (this) voters decision making.

Posted by: David | Sep 8, 2010 10:12:46 AM

I think that there are some crimes that only the death penalty is suitable for.

Posted by: protein shakes | Nov 15, 2010 6:46:59 PM

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