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Briggs cites progress in death penalty vote

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From page A1 | November 16, 2012 | 10 Comments

Even though the proposition to repeal the death penalty was turned down by California voters, local proponent Supervisor Ron Briggs said he is elated by the outcome.

An active supporter of the proposition, Briggs said, “the vote on Tuesday took away any question of’ if the death penalty would be eliminated, but when.

“A year ago those supporting the death penalty were at 63-64 percent and now they are at 52-53 percent. The campaign in the last year has knocked down those in support of the death penalty and I think it’s a tremendous victory actually.”

Proposition 34 would have replaced the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole. Statewide, 47 percent of Californians voted for Proposition 34 while 53 percent voted no. Locally, 65 percent of El Dorado County residents voted against it.

Briggs thought that the reason the measure didn’t pass was because the target group for the Proposition received a confused message.

He said those leading the Proposition 34 campaign had identified Latino women as the target group for the measure because they were largely undecided.

However at the same time Proposition 34 proponents were pushing to repeal the death penalty, President Obama was targeting the same group of voters in his claim to have killed Osama Bin Laden.

“He was targeting vengeance and confused the target market by stressing that he killed Bin Laden. He was wrapping himself in the flag and that confused voters.”

Briggs said the campaign against the death penalty would continue. ”When you’ve got 47 percent support, that’s a win,” he said. “We just need to spend more money and press harder and it will be repealed. We’ll come back and do it again, probably in two years.”

Briggs has a long family history with the death penalty for it was his father, former state Sen. John Briggs, who is credited with rewriting the laws governing the death penalty.

Passed by voters in 1978, the law increased the penalties for first and second degree murder, expanded the special circumstance categories that required the death penalty, and redefined the law related to mitigating and aggravating circumstances. At the time, Sen. Briggs and his son thought they were creating a national model for capital punishment.

However, in the intervening years, Ron Briggs said he has had a change of heart after seeing the human and financial cost of the death penalty and now favors life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for those deemed eligible for the penalty.

To date the state has spent $4 billion on the death penalty and has only executed 13 inmates since 1978, at a cost of about $307 million per execution. Legal fees and retrials account for much of that cost.

According to figures from the Yes on 34 campaign, there are currently 726 people on death row in California.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 10 comments

  • Dave in KelseyNovember 16, 2012 - 10:21 am

    Mr. Briggs is entitled to his opinion no matter how wrong it is. Why is it we have only executed 13 people? Maybe the lawsuits blocking it? By law, everyone who is sentenced to death has an automatic appeal. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about little front groups for Amnesty International and the liberal agenda. We don't need to spend millions of dollars on each execution, but they sure as heck make it that way. Bullets are cheap. So is rope. When did we put the convicted's feelings and lack of pain ahead of the victim's rights and the will of the people? Bring back the death penalty and start cleaning house on death row. Maybe it's Kalifornia's future. Corrupt politicans, weak on crime, hire taxes, and the will of the people circumvented. Heck, all that is going on now.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AnthonyNovember 16, 2012 - 1:20 pm

    Here is a list of some of the countries where the death penalty is still practiced. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia. Here is a list of some of the countries where the death penalty has been banned. Canada, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom. In Israel, capital punishment is used only for war crimes, and genocide. As far as I am concerned, when the company we keep is defined by the first list, and not the second, something is drastically wrong.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DeeNovember 16, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    Anthony, . China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia are our friends and we must continue our progress forward to eliminate as many differences as possible.Canada, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom with the United States has caused all poverty, hate and violence in the world. We must continue to distance ourselves from them. We cannot adopt anymore of their laws or attitude. We can only speak of Israel in soft whispers behind closed doors because they are the most evil of all countries.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DB SmithNovember 16, 2012 - 4:02 pm

    It's a sad shame that in the 2012/13 budget, California Governor Brown budgeted $1 Billion more for prisons vs. higher education. California prisons spend over $1 Billion per year just to house illegal immigrates.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ken SteersNovember 16, 2012 - 4:12 pm

    Have we executed anyone for 9-11 yet? Didn't we toast McVeigh in like a week? What's up with that?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • James E.November 16, 2012 - 4:37 pm

    Mr. McVeigh was toasted at his own request. He declined all appeals.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MikeNovember 16, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    Mr Briggs is an idiot as well!! We will spend tons more money with them living in prison for years and years. Spending: Average high school student $3500 Average inmate $175,000+ This seems backwards to me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Use the death penalty!November 17, 2012 - 9:59 am

    “We just need to spend more money and press harder and it will be repealed. We’ll come back and do it again, probably in two years.” Typical, sounds like a demorat. Spend, spend, spend. I'm all for the death penalty actually being used.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CatherineNovember 18, 2012 - 8:44 pm

    Look up the story of Cameron Todd Willingham. Then look up Damien Echols and the WM3. Courtrooms don't always produce just verdicts, so you have to have an appeals process. That, plus the Supermarket cells that the corrections corporations have promoted have made death sentences very expensive for taxpayers.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CatherineNovember 18, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    *** Supermax, not Supermarket! Pesky auto-correct.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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