It is going to take more than the following article to keep the death penalty intact in California. Proponents will have to campaign very hard. They will need full page adds in small town newspapers graphically detailing the crimes.
For the most part, when faced with the cost to tax payers, 25 year-old Mr. Jones in San Diego isn't going feel sympathy for the loss of Mrs. Smith's 13 year-old daughter who was found 28 years ago along a trail in Yosemite National Park unless Lisa Smith is profiled with a picture and at least 2 paragraphs detailing the crime.
Statements like this will need elaboration "It's a horrible idea and I think (supporters of the measure) are manipulating the facts,"
District attorneys protest measure that would end death penalty
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos was among fellow top prosecutors at the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday voicing their opposition to a measure that aims to abolish California's death penalty.
The California District Attorneys Association, of which Ramos is past president, is opposed to the SAFE California Act, a November ballot measure that would replace the death penalty with the punishment of life in prison without parole.
The measure to abolish the death penalty official qualified for the November ballot on Monday.
If voters approve, 725 death row inmates would have their sentences converted to the new punishment, which would be the harshest that prosecutors could seek.
In Sacramento, Ramos marched with fellow district attorneys and victims' family members in support of Crime Victims Week, which began on Monday. Opponents say the measure removes justice for victims of death row prisoners.
"It's a horrible idea and I think (supporters of the measure) are manipulating the facts," Ramos said.
"Nobody sitting on California's death row has ever been proven innocent. These people brutally and horrifically murdered citizens of our county. We are careful about who we select for the death penalty and we don't make these decisions lightly ... I can tell you that the people sitting on death row are not only guilty, but they deserve the ultimate punishment."
Supporters of the ballot measure say abolishing the death penalty will save the state millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense attorneys who handle death penalty cases.
"Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake," said Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin who is now an anti-death penalty advocate and an official supporter of the measure.
If the death penalty were to end, it would affect Inland Empire cases.
In 1986, Redlands was rocked when Corrina Novis, then 20, was murdered after she was abducted near the Redlands Mall on Nov. 7.
Her body was found in a shallow grave in Fontana. Her killers, James Marlow and Cynthia Coffman are now on Death Row - Marlow at San Quentin State Prison and Coffman at Central California Women's Facility.
Novis, a then-insurance clerk at State Farm, had stopped at Cho's Liquors at the corner of Colton Avenue and Orange Street before she was supposed to meet with friends at Gay 90s Pizza Parlor.
Police said Marlow abducted Novis outside of the front entrance of the mall and forced her at gunpoint to withdraw money from her checking account.
Marlow and Coffman then took Novis to a Fontana home where the two used coercion then sodomy to obtain her bank card number.
The pair then took Novis to a vineyard in Fontana when they strangled her before burying her alive.
Days later, the pair robbed and murdered Lynel Murrary, 19, in Huntington Beach on Nov. 12, 1986.
The two were tried in 1987 together with separate attorneys present.
Two years later, Coffman and Marlow were convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping for robbery, burglary and sodomy and sentenced to death.
Chino Hills resident Mary Ann Hughes, the mother of a young murder victim, hopes the measure fails.
"Some people commit such evil crimes, such as the person who killed my son, that the only way people can be free of people like that is through the death penalty," Hughes said.
"That was the sentence they gave him, and for it to be changed now doesn't do justice to my son or to any of the other victims out there."
Death row inmate Kevin Cooper was convicted in 1985 for the June 4, 1983, murders of Hughes, Douglas and Peggy Ryen and their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica. They were brutally slain with a hatchet and knife in the Ryens' home in Chino Hills. An execution date has yet to be set for Cooper or any other current California death row inmates because of concerns that the state's lethal injection method is inhumane, said John Kochis, current lead prosecutor on the Kevin Cooper case and chief deputy district attorney for San Bernardino County.
"The reason that the death penalty is appropriate in Cooper's case is he did terrible things to an innocent family that didn't deserve to die, let alone die the way they died," Kochis said. "His conduct was so terrible that the appropriate punishment for his conduct is the death penalty."
Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state has executed 13 inmates. A 2009 study conducted by a senior federal judge and law school professor concluded that the state was spending about $184 million a year to maintain its death row and the death penalty system.
The "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act" is the fifth measure to qualify for the November ballot, the secretary of state announced Monday. Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.
If the measure passes, $100 million in purported savings from abolishing the death penalty would be used over three years to investigate unsolved murders and rapes.
A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
Expect a media barrage by pro DPers a couple of weeks right before the election.
Obama ate my dad
Napa DA opposes measure to abolish death penalty
Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein is among the prosecutors who oppose a measure to abolish the death penalty which was placed on the November ballot this week.
If approved in November, the initiative would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The state’s 700-plus inmates on death row would also have their death sentence converted to life without the possibility of parole under SAFE California’s death penalty measure.
Connecticut on Wednesday became the 17th state to ban the death penalty. California’s last execution was in 2006.
Lieberstein calls the death penalty a “very complex and ethical issue.” The death row system, he also said, is “broken,” noting that the average length of appeals is 23 years.
Yet Lieberstein opposes the measure to abolish the death penalty. One reason is that the measure is retroactive, he said. The initiative, if successful, he said, “would reopen the scars of scores on crime victims families across our state without them having a word to say about it with the exception of their personal vote at the ballot box.”
“It is truly cruel and unusual punishment for each of them who have sat through lengthy jury trials, sentencing and appeals only to have their vivid memories re-ignited by this initiative,” Lieberstein said.
On Tuesday, the day after the measure was placed on the ballot, the California District Attorneys Association, which represents the 58 elected district attorneys and 2,700 prosecutors, formally opposed the measure.
Endorsers of the proposed SAFE California measure include Jeanne Wofford, former warden at San Quentin State Prison, and Gil Garcetti, the longtime Los Angeles district attorney. They argue the death penalty is no deterrent and costs millions of dollars California can’t afford.
Replacing the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole would save the state $100 million every year, money that could be better spent on law enforcement, violence prevention and schools, SAFE California supporters say. The measure also sets aside $30 million per year for three years to solve murder and rape cases.
Ron Abernethy, Napa County’s chief deputy public defender, supports the measure.
“When a person receives the death penalty or sentence of life without parole, they will die in prison. The only difference is the timing of when the death will occur. We are spending a considerable amount of money trying to advance when that death in prison will occur,” he said.
But unlike Lieberstein, who believes there are enough checks and balances to prevent errors and that the debate should not be about saving money, Abernethy said innocent people have been executed.
“The one death penalty fact that is indisputable is this; despite the many safeguards to prevent such occurrences some, thankfully not many, innocent people have been, and will continue to be, executed,” Abernethy said.
“A primary goal of the criminal justice system is safer communities. Utilizing the money currently spent on maintaining the death penalty for programs that reduce recidivism by altering antisocial behavior and thus reducing crime seems like a much better use of the money,” Abernethy said.
Eric Matthew Copple was the last defendant in Napa County who was eligible for the death penalty for killing two women in their West Napa home in 2006. He was sentenced in 2007 to life without the possibility of parole.
“In my opinion, Copple was a cold-blooded murderer who deserved to die for his crimes,” Lieberstein said. “Having said that, life without the possibility of parole, the sentence he offered to plead to and was convicted of, was the appropriate and just sentence in this case for a number of reasons. Most importantly it was within the ultimate wishes of both of the victims' families who did not want to be dragged through trial and then through decades of appeals.”
Napa County has sent two people to death row, but both were tried in Napa County Superior Court after a change of venue from where their crimes where committed. Their trials were moved to Napa County because of pretrial publicity.
Eric Houston, a former student at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, Yuba County, shot three students and a teacher to death and wounded 10 others in May 1992. He reportedly held 80 students hostage. He began to serve his sentence on Sept. 24, 1993, according to the California Department of Corrections. He is 40 now.
The other death row inmate, Arturo Suarez, began serving his sentence on March 18, 2002, according to the state. In 1998, Suarez killed four family members near Auburn in Placer County, including two children, and raped and kidnapped a woman with whom he had become obsessed. He is 44 now.
Read more: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/l...#ixzz1tK7Oyc3u
A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
Death penalty gives victims justice
Over 500,000 California voters have signed a petition that has put a measure that would abolish the death penalty on the November’s ballot. If the death penalty is abolished in California family and friends of victims of murders will not get the justice they deserve.
Although California has executed only 13 people since the death penalty was re-introduced in 1978, the state should not abolish capital punishment. The problem with the death penalty is in the way the courts deal with those on death row.
Supporters of the bill say the massive amounts of money spent in courts on appeals, stays, and other things used to delay executions are reasons for abolishment of the law. By taking people convicted of first-degree murder off death row and giving them life in prison, will this really lower the cost to the taxpayer?
Prisons are already packed in California; the focus should be put on speeding up the death row process.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center as of the beginning of the year there were 723 inmates on death row in California and 3,189 in the United States. No inmate has been put to death in California since 2006.
By law families of victims and a few other people are able to view executions to confirm the death of the person. Families of murder victims have the right to verify that a person who hurt their relative has been put to death.
Take for instance Anders Breivik, the 33 year-old Norwegian who is on trial for the killing of eight people in a bombing in Oslo, and the shooting and killing of another 69 people, mostly teens at a nearby youth camp.
Norway abolished the death penalty years ago, so Breivik is facing only 21 years in prison, maybe longer if the government decides to make exceptions to the laws. Breivik himself called his potential punishment “pathetic” in court and said that acquittal or death should be the only outcome in his trial.
California is well known for violent crimes. The death penalty is a just way of dealing with the worst of society. There is little reason to change someone’s death sentence to a life sentences. California has not seen anything like that of the Norway massacre, but letting these types of criminals survive is unjust.
A person that has purposely and violently taken a life of another should loose the right to live. The state needs to revamp the death row process, not abolish the practice.
No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.
Klass decries realignment as dangerous to kids
Marc Klaas has dedicated almost two decades to missing children, a cause he doesn't intend to give up anytime soon.
That work, he said, has provided a sort of therapy for him and his wife for the lingering pain from the kidnap and murder of his 12-year-old daughter, Polly, nearly 20 years ago.
"It's really helped both of us put our lives back together in a very positive way so we can enjoy things without feeling guilt," he said Friday morning in Redding.
Part of that effort includes Capital Insurance Group's Community Safety Saturday, a free event today in Chico to educate families on a variety of child-safety topics.
"Probably the most satisfying of all are events like this, which are really grass-roots, hands-on type ventures," Klaas said.
The KlaasKids Foundation, started by Klaas in 1994, will offer photo identification and fingerprint kits for every child at today's event while parents will get a free DNA collection kit, child safety tips and a plan on what to do if a child disappears.
More than a half dozen other agencies also will be at Community Safety Saturday offering a variety of fun and educational activities.
Klaas' life changed forever the night of Oct. 1, 1993, when Polly was taken at knife point from her mother's home in Petaluma.
The search ended tragically just more than two months later when Polly's body was found about 30 miles from the house.
In the 19 years since, Klaas abandoned his rental car franchise to set up KlaasKids and regularly appears on national television to talk about missing children cases. He advocates for child safety issues in state and national legislatures.
"The mission is really simple — to stop crimes against children," Klaas said. "Our agenda really extends from the family table to the president's Cabinet table."
The Internet and social networking have provedto be powerful tools in locating and recovering missing children, Klaas said.
"You can almost look at the Internet as a milk carton project on steroids," he said. "It's been instrumental in the recovery of missing persons."
But that advantage, Klaas said, does come with increased dangers to children.
"People with evil intent are able to disguise themselves in any way they want," he said.
He also said the state's plan to shift nonviolent, nonserious offenders from prisons to county supervision, commonly referred to as realignment, has presented further dangers in the form of more criminals on the street who otherwise would have been in prison.
"It's a shirking of responsibility on the part of our government," Klaas said. "It's a cynical slap in the face to the citizens of California, as far as I'm concerned."
The key to navigate such times and keeping children safe is educating parents and children about avoiding dangers, Klaas said.
"There's nothing that a 12-year-old child can do against a determined predator, but we can create an environment where they're not alone with a predator," he said.
Beyond serving as catalyst for the actions of Klaas and his supporters, his daughter's death galvanized state lawmakers in 1994, the year after Polly's death, to pass California's Three Strikes Act, which allows for life sentences to those convicted of three or more violent crimes or serious felonies.
Richard Allen Davis, the man convicted in 1996 of kidnapping and murdering Polly Klaas, was a career criminal on parole for a 1985 kidnapping and robbery conviction.
He had been free from state prison for fewer than five months before kidnapping the girl.
Davis, now 57, is on death row at San Quentin State Prison. The Supreme Court in 2009 upheld his conviction, although he still has further appeal options.
IF YOU GO
What: Capital Insurance Group and CIG Titus and Associates Community Safety Saturday
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Walmart parking lot, 2044 Forest Ave., Chico
Event includes: Child safety demonstrations, information and education; free child car seat inspections; raffle for $250 and $100 gas cards and other prizes
A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
San Bernardino County DA opposes initiative to end death penalty
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos is speaking out against a November ballot initiative that aims to end the death penalty in California.
In an interview, he said it's his priority right now.
The SAFE California Act was cleared last month for the fall ballot. It seeks to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment for murder.
The initiative's proponent, Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement for California, cited several reasons for the repeal effort, including the state's significant budget crisis, the high cost of maintaining the death penalty and the risk of executing an innocent person.
If the initiative passes, more than 700 death row inmates - including 43 who committed their crimes in San Bernardino County - would join the prison's general population. But it would require the inmates to work and pay restitution to the state victim compensation fund.
"I think it's wrong," Ramos said of the repeal effort. "As we know, the citizens of California have voted for and approved the death penalty."
Ramos said the title of the SAFE California Act is misleading and that its proponents are simply using California's tough economic times to further their cause.
We have nobody who is innocent sitting on death row, he said.
Jeanne Woodford, a former warden at San Quentin state prison and the official proponent
for the SAFE California Act, said in an interview this week that state voters in November will have their first opportunity to decide between the death penalty and a sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole.
"We're getting a lot of support," Woodford said. "Our coalition is huge."
California spends millions of dollars each year on its death penalty, for trials and investigations, death row housing, as well as state and federal appeals, according to SAFE California.
The group contends replacing the death penalty would save the state nearly $1billion in five years.
The SAFE California Act would also take $30million of the money saved annually for three years and put it into a special fund to be used to solve more murder and rape cases.
"Back in 1978, we did not have an alternative sentence that would keep convicted killers behind bars forever," Woodford said in an earlier statement. "We certainly did not know that we would spend $4billion on 13 executions. Our system is broken, expensive. It will always carry the grave risk of a mistake."
Ramos said the nonprofit RAND Corp. found no objective data as to the true cost of the death penalty. The state will have to pay for housing either way, he said.
"I'm such an advocate for the death penalty," said Ramos, who also advocates for victims' rights. "You want to save money, let's start putting people (on death row) to death."
Statewide, 41 death row inmates killed police officers, 141 killed children and 135 sexually assaulted and raped their victims, Ramos said.
One of San Bernardino County's notorious killers, Kevin Cooper, has been sitting on death row for 27 years after being convicted of the hatchet slayings on June 4, 1983, of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old house guest in Chino Hills.
Cooper appealed 10 times each to the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, Ramos said.
"Each time, the evidence got stronger against him," he said. "Cooper wanted us to conduct DNA testing and we did. The most recent blood tests revealed Cooper's DNA."
No execution date has been set for Cooper or any other California death row inmates because of concerns that the state's lethal injection method, which uses three injections, is inhumane.
But Ramos does agree that the death penalty needs to be fixed. There should be an appellate process, he said, but it needs to be streamlined to prevent appeals just for the purpose of delay.
Ramos also believes the method used should be a single injection and that it's not cruel and unusual punishment.
"It's a humane way," he said. "It basically puts them to sleep. I will tell you this, our victims didn't have that choice. They didn't get to say goodbye to family members."
District attorneys statewide use their discretion when deciding whether to seek the death penalty.
"This is probably one of the most serious decisions I have to make as a DA," Ramos said, "whether or not to seek the death penalty. I have a lot of respect for the whole process. It's a huge decision to make."
A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
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