Death Penalty in California is Madness!
By Ernest Salomon
To D.A. Dudley:
The News-Press reported today that you will seek the death penalty for Pierre Haobsh for his brutal murders of the Han family in Santa Barbara. In principle, I could not agree with you more that this guy deserves to die, but I do not agree with your decision. If you succeed in getting the death penalty for this killer and I believe that you will, your office will spend an inordinate amount of time and taxpayer money on it and in the end, he will not be executed in your lifetime!
The facts concerning the death penalty in California will show that Haobsh will die of old age in San Quentin instead of being executed. The public needs to be educated and shown how really ineffectual and costly the death penalty is in order for an anti-death penalty initiative to succeed next time..
One of the leaders advocating to end the death penalty is Jeanne Woodford, a former deputy undersecretary and director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the former warden of San Quentin prison.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated in the L.A. Times that "the death penalty in California is dysfunctional" in its failure to bring about executions. Victims' families' appearances in court for appeal hearings literally go on forever, therefore prolonging their pain and suffering and who in most cases never receive closure for their loss.
Murderers who were sentenced to death, in some cases 35 or more years ago, are still sitting on death row in California through appeal after appeal. More death row prisoners have died from natural causes than have been executed in the last 35 years.
Santa Barbara County has seven inmates on Death row and among them is Malcom Robbins. He murdered a child in Goleta in 1980 and has been on death row since 1983; 34 years! Richard Benson: 30 years! George Wharton: 30 years! Tommy Martinez: 19 years! Martin Mendoza: 17 years! Ryan Hoyt: 15 years! Joshua Miracle: 11 years. This does not include the previous years that were taken for their trials and convictions.
Death penalty inmates live a more comfortable life on Death Row than general population inmates! This entire process is madness!
Since 1976, California has executed 13 people, the last one in 2006. This is about one every three years.
Each of the 13 executions has cost California's taxpayers $250 million. California has about 745 people on death row and each inmate there costs $90,000 more, per year, to house than other prisoners, a total of over $65 million a year in extra costs for all death row inmates. An inmate on death row for 25 years costs over $3.5 million just to house in San Quentin.
Each initial death penalty trial costs over $1 million more than a life-without-parole trial. The legal system eats up one-third of its total budget, hundreds of millions of dollars through hearing endless death penalty appeals.
The enormous expense associated with the prosecution of death penalty cases starts with the discovery of the homicide. Many people attribute the costs primarily to the delays following a conviction, i.e., appointment of counsel, appeals, etc. Those expenditures are imposed on the state. The counties bear the costs of initial investigation by law enforcement, District Attorney, appointed defense counsel and their investigators, psychologists and psychiatrists, court personnel, jurors (and their employers) -- all of which are multiplied from the norm of "ordinary" criminal prosecutions as a result of a potential verdict of death.
The death penalty should be replaced by a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Of the over 4,700 men and women sentenced to life without possibility of parole in California, few, if any, will ever be released.
If desired by the people of California, an exception for the death penalty could be made for serial killers, for killers who have committed murders with extreme cruelty and murderers of children. In these most heinous of cases, the appeals process would move much faster than it does now, because the courts would then have relatively few death penalty cases to review, rather than the over 700 death penalty appeals that now clog the entire California judicial system.
Convictions of life without parole are far easier to obtain and there is the important safeguard that no innocent person would get executed. Families of murder victims would get faster justice and their emotions would not be on a rubber band.
California Chief Justice Sakauye and former San Quentin Warden Woodford are both tough, hard-line advocates of the criminal justice system, but they realize the failure of the death penalty.
I urge all my fellow citizens and you to take the time to review the staggering total costs of billions of tax dollars involved in death penalty cases, even though we have over 745 inmates on death row and it has only been imposed 13 times in the last 35 years.
The last ballot initiative to end the death penalty in California failed to pass. When the people in our state become educated and then realize why the death penalty is not a death penalty at all, then the next initiative to end it will pass!
September 9, 2017 - DA Seeks Death Penalty in Han Murder Case