Everything Governor Newsom has stated as a reason for imposing his one-size-fits-all blanket moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in California is based on false premises.
With his actions, the Governor has made it clear that to him democracy does not matter. The people have spoken repeatedly on the death penalty and this Governor has chosen to ignore them. He has cited there are 164 people nationwide who have been freed from death row after they were found to be wrongfully convicted. Doesn’t that mean the appeals process works?
He has said the death penalty has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Isn’t that because those who oppose the death penalty have thrown so many wrenches in the process that it has ground to a virtual halt? Sorry, you don’t get to break something and then say, ‘Well, let’s toss it because it’s broken.’
He says he couldn’t sleep at night if he thought he had put an innocent man to death.
Well then, make sure that doesn’t happen. Modern DNA testing is amazing, and the governor has the power to order that testing.
He says in the end this was an emotional decision: “I cannot sign off on executing hundreds and hundreds of human beings.” Given that lethal injection is still hung up in the courts and is currently the only legal means of execution in California, this simply would not come to pass. In fact, out of the 737 prisoners on death row, there are only 25 who have exhausted all of their appeals and stand to be executed sooner rather than later, pending the courts’ determination.
Which leads me to the most important point: The 737 murderers on death row represent the worst of the worst. You don’t end up on death row simply because you committed murder; you have to have hit some really brutal and heinous legal criteria to be eligible for capital punishment.
We’re not talking about a bar fight gone bad.
In fact, according to the Attorney General’s annual report on homicides in California, the number of people arrested for homicide from 2008-2017 that go on to receive the death sentence averages just around one percent (1.14%). In 2017 there were 1,501 homicide arrests in California; of those, 11 received the death penalty – 0.73 percent. In 2016 the percentage of murderers sentenced to death was 0.63 percent, and in 2015, 0.97 percent.
Those one percenters represent the worst of the worst; the most heinous, cold-blooded, brutal and cruel collection of murderers there are. The death penalty is NOT handed down lightly. How “worst” do you have to be?
The Governor has given a reprieve to serial killers such as William Suff who was found guilty of murdering 12 women and dumping their bodies in fields in Western Riverside County between 1989 and 1991. Suff was sentenced to death in 1995. His death sentence was upheld in 2014 by the California Supreme Court.
Consider serial killer Randy Kraft.
Between 1972 and 1983 he killed 16 young men and sexually mutilated their bodies. Charles Ng, with killing partner Leonard Lake, used a dungeon adjacent to their cabin to torture and kill at least 11 and up to as many as 25 women.
Then there’s Wayne Adam Ford who, when he turned himself in to authorities in 1988, was found to be carrying a woman’s severed breast in his pocket. He confessed to having killed four women in 1997 and 1998. These are the one percenters who sit on California’s Death Row. These are the one percenters whose lives Governor Newsom wants to spare.
Don’t be taken in by false arguments about who’s receiving the death penalty and that they haven’t earned capital punishment. They didn’t just have a bad childhood or get enough hugs from their parents. They aren’t just misunderstood. They are sociopaths who have committed cruel, atrocious, heinous crimes, and for them, for the one percent, capital punishment is just and deserved. Some people truly are just evil.
In addition, the families and friends of the people who have been heinously murdered by killers arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced and have had their sentences upheld by appellate courts are being victimized once again by a Governor who has abandoned his constitutional responsibility to support, uphold and defend the laws and constitution of the State of California.
Governor Newsom, rescind your blanket moratorium. Take a case-by-case approach if you must, if it will help you sleep at night, but on this issue you are just plain wrong.