Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No to Proposition 34

From page A6 | October 12, 2012 | 9 Comments

A lot of murderers get life in prison. Some get 25 years-to-life. But the really horrid murderers get the death penalty. There are 725 of them on Death Row. At least four of them are from El Dorado County cases, such as Herb Coddington, who strangled two elderly ladies and stuffed them in garbage bags. He then sexually molested the two teenage models the ladies were chaperoning, raping one of them, all in a sound proof room. He held them captive for three days until law enforcement stormed his mobile home.

That was in 1987. It only took the jury three and a half hours to convict. They didn’t have any qualms about sentencing him to die. We don’t either.

Then there is Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, who terrorized Southern California in 1984-85. In 1989 he was convicted of 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, 14 burglaries. His actual murder count was almost double what he was convicted for. The death penalty belongs to this guy.

The argument against the death penalty is it’s too expensive housing all those death penalty cases. So what? Another argument is that it’s not working. So, make it work. If the three-stage IV isn’t acceptable to those judges who think it’s too cruel for the Night Stalker, then get a single shot IV or a firing squad. It’s time to thin out the population of merciless killers. It’s a crying shame the death penalty wasn’t reinstated when Charles Manson was convicted of the bloody Tate-La Bianca murders.

In the meantime vote no on Proposition 34. Just because a few so-called prisoner rights attorneys are tying up the executions doesn’t mean it’s forever. Dot the I’s and T’s and restart the executions. There are a lot of deserving cruel killers. We believe the death penalty is a deterrent. To make the deterrent meaningful the state needs to resume executions. Saving money is a phony issue. This is what we pay our taxes for — protection of society.

Mountain Democrat


Discussion | 9 comments

  • cookie65October 12, 2012 - 5:14 am

    Since 1973 we have aborted an estimated 50 million pregnancies in this country. That is considerably more that the population of California. Yet we keep people like manson alive because to do different would be cruel and unusual. And I am not anti-abortion, I am totally in favor of lefitsts not reproducing.

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  • Jim RiordanOctober 12, 2012 - 11:14 am

    I like the firing squad. Cost effective, say one bullet and six blanks. No one knows who killed the dirtbag thus relieving all squad members of guilt and it puts dollars back into the economy to buy ammo, while saving money spent on all those pesky drug injections and intravenous bags, tubes etc. The best part is the squad could be made up of family members of the victims . . . I'm sure there would be no shortage of volunteers. Sorry If I offended the lawyers who would make these cases last forever but, . . I really don't care if you are offended. I, as a taxpayer. am offended by you POS costing us big money for your delays while the people on death row laugh in our faces while enjoying all the "luxuries" afforded to those on death row . . .leaving the victims to wonder if there is any justice. The victims are the ones I care about.

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  • Ron BriggsOctober 12, 2012 - 2:47 pm

    Dear Editor, Mr. Editor, cost of the death penalty cannot be dismissed in the Proposition 34 conversation as they are too massive and having tremendous fiscal impact to our state and county general funds. Here’s why. Recently we were forced fed a State Responsibility Area fire fee which is estimated to withdraw approximately $8 million from county property owners and this issue remains “the” hottest topic at any forum or gathering of people today. Since 2007 I’ve been a member of the Board of Supervisors who took on our responsibility of being frugal with taxpayer dollars by looking deep into department services and function. We struggled through days and weeks in 2007 and 2008 budget hearing testimony from Veterans or library friends or senior advocates speaking from their hearts pleading to keep $10,000 here or $30,000 there. In 2007 and 2008 there were events external from board of supervisors occurring. Specifically a re-trial of a 1981 death penalty conviction and a capital punishment prosecution of murdered Highway Patrolman Russell. It is here that I began to ask our Chief Administrative Officer, Public Defender and District Attorney, Sheriff, Probation Officer and Courts how much does a death penalty case cost their respective budgets. My back of the napkin estimate is a startling cost of one million dollars for each and every death penalty case coming out of our general fund. For some contrast a million dollars could put seven deputies on the street, a million dollars to veterans services or the library or to senior services would be an energizing long term boon. The current Death Penalty was created through a statewide initiative that my dad then state Senator John Briggs, who, in 1978, was the proponent for Proposition 7 otherwise called the Briggs Death Penalty initiative. I was an active member of the “Citizens for an Effective Death Penalty Committee” and traveled the state alongside dad stumping for votes. In November of 1978 voters approved the initiative with 72% voting in the affirmative. In 2011 federal court judge Arthur Alarcon (who favors death penalty) and professor Paula Mitchell of Loyola School of Law (opponent of death penalty) released results of their collaborative three year investigation of death penalty cost in California. For the first time taxpayers get a look a cost of death penalty and it’s an ugly picture. The state general fund has spent $4 billion dollars since 1978 or $187 million annually for each of the past 34 years. Regardless of your moral position on the death penalty. I think we all can agree four billion dollars for thirteen executions is preposterous. There were 160 condemned inmates in 1978 when dads initiative was passed, today, there are 728. Said differently post Proposition 7 there are 568 new murderers have been added to death row population, a whopping 350% increase. Said yet another way California is adding one new condemned death row inmate each and every month, begging the question of whether or not it’s a deterrent. Appeals are among the biggest driver of costs because under today’s death penalty, the Briggs Death Penalty, murderers are afforded appeal after appeal after appeal. The 1981 re-trial I spoke of earlier, in 2007 an El Dorado County jury found him guilty, again, and again the county general fund spent another one million dollars, I am told that murderer has two more appeals in the system and that sometime around 2024 his appeals should be completed, an astounding 43 years of appeals. Where is the justice and certainty for victims, survivors and victim’s families? Every day they wake up they can expect a phone call saying another re-trial has been ordered. Proposition 34 mandates one appeal only. (an innocence claim remains always) Once convicted, the murderer serves a life without possibility of parole sentence in general population of prison working and paying restitution. All their special privileges are eliminated including the two highly specialized attorneys who are perpetually assigned to work for each and every death row inmate 24/7, 365. California can continue to argue the merits of the death penalty at a cost to taxpayers of one hundred and eighty seven million annually. We can keep the death penalty and our prosecutors will continue to file capital cases costing county general fund one million dollars each case. In any regard the subject of cost must not be ignored. There are so many other programs worthy of our time and efforts and maybe, we could provide some peace and quite for victims families. Please take time to read on line the Alarcon/Mitchell study. Finally, I’d like to ask you a question: “If there were a state program spending $187 million each year on lawyers and murderers producing absolutely nothing. How would you vote, if given a chance, to continue or eliminate the program?” close your eyes and ask yourself this question. Open them and vote Yes on Proposition 34. rb Ron Briggs

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  • readerOctober 12, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    Mr. Briggs is right. Long-winded, but right.

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  • Ken SteersOctober 13, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    I'll be honest, I didn't read all of what Ron wrote. But we are in agreement that the system is broke. Also my personal belief is society should cherish the sanctity of life and not assume the role of decision maker of who lives or dies. Infant, mass murder, elderly all the same. Murder accepted by the majority under the label of revenge or convenience is still murder.

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  • Chris BernstienOctober 14, 2012 - 3:12 am

    The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children. 43 were police officers. 211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured. 11 murdered other inmates. The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false. No “savings.” Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one. Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work. These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers. Also, without the death penalty, the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty will lead to more trial and related costs and appeals. No “accountability.” Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims. Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one. No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors. Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate. They’re already serving a life sentence. Efforts are also being made to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences. On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving as little as 15 years. Life without parole is meaningless. Remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps. Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. Can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See

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  • Yvonne SavilleOctober 16, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    Where can I get "No on Prop. 34" signs for the windows or yard? (Is there an organized, funded group opposing this prop., putting out opposition signs and mailings?) Thank you.

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  • Chris BernstienOctober 26, 2012 - 10:51 am

    A jury of 12 people and a judge confirmed for each of these inmates that their crimes were so atrocious and they were so dangerous that they not only did not deserve to live, but they were so dangerous that the only safe recourse was the death penalty. Recognizing how dangerous these killers are, the prison houses them one person to a cell and does not provide them with work, leaving them locked in their cells most of the day. Prop. 34 wants to ignore all of this and save money by placing these killers in less-restrictive prisons where they share cells with other inmates. They also want to provide them opportunities for work, where they have more freedom, access to other inmates and guards, and more chances to manufacture weapons. Prop. 34 will also destroy any incentive for the 34,000 inmates already serving life without parole to kill again. There would be no death penalty under Prop. 34 and they are already serving a life sentence, so why not get a name for yourself killing another inmate or a guard? And they refer to Prop. 34 as the SAFE Act!

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  • Chris BernstienOctober 26, 2012 - 10:52 am

    Former California Department of Finance Director Michael Genest, an expert on state finances and how ballot initiatives affect the state budget, reviewed Prop 34 and said that its claims of budget savings are "grossly exaggerated." There is no independent, third-party study that exists which backs up any claim that eliminating the death penalty in California will save money. The "study" put forth by the Yes on Prop 34 campaign was conducted by individuals whose opposition to the death penalty is well-known. In other words, they are trying to push their own agenda. The non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has studied Prop 34 and while they estimate possible savings under Prop 34, they acknowledge substantial uncertainties in their estimates and admit they could be off by "tens of millions of dollars." Unless murders stop, there will always be murder investigations and trials costs, whether or not there is a death penalty, and killers will continue to appeal their convictions. Prop 34 proponents never account for these costs, or the increased cost to provide housing and healthcare for death row inmates in any of their claims.

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