Town Square

Post a New Topic

Judge: California death penalty system is unconstitutionally cruel

Original post made on Jul 18, 2014

California's death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment because the system is "dysfunctional" and its implementation arbitrary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 17, 2014, 1:08 PM

Comments (19)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

Really. A judge needed to waste his time on this??? Maybe his time would be better spent in changing the appeals process, to say, 6 months. And furthermore, who did the math here: "To carry out the sentences of the 748 inmates on Death Row, California would have to carry out more than one execution a week for the next 14 years".
I think i have a plan that could carry out the executions in say...one week.
Our system is so screwed up, its no wonder criminal run the state. I'm sick.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

We need to get rid of the death penalty, hopefully this is a start towards that goal.

It is such an outdated practice!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Jul 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Dave, as usual you're right. Why delay killing these guys just so they can gather evidence which proves they're not actually guilty, like Kevin Green, or Dave Jones, or the other 8 convicted men in California who have been proven to have been innocent after being initially convicted and sent to prison, or the 144 men and women who were sentenced to death in this country only to have their convictions overturned and be acquitted in a fair retrial, or have the prosecutors drop the case altogether? I mean - such a hassle, right?

A much better system would be to have anyone Dave doesn't like simply killed on the spot. Then you wouldn't be "sick" any more, right?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Hearkening back to the halcyon days of 2011, when the Raucous Caucus was a mere sprite of a blog: Web Link

I think the question asked there remains relevant. It's too high a price for me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Jul 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Interesting discussion back then, Tom. What's notable is the level of deflection, avoidance, ad hominem attacks and false dichotomies in the arguments presented.

Personally, I have no objection to the death penalty. Where we have adequate certainty of the guilt of the defendant and the crime is heinous - and those cases do exist - I have no qualms about executing the criminal.

But I'm aware that the death penalty isn't reserved for cases where guilt is certain and is absolutely not limited to particularly heinous crimes. Proponents of the death penalty will cite to Richard Allen Davis (who I would happily pull the switch on myself) but they ignore the hundreds of anonymous guys on death row. Those other guys are typically the ones who had a lawyer who phoned it in, in part precisely because the crime wasn't sensational enough to attract any significant attention.

If we could create a system where unquestionably guilty monsters like Davis were consistently executed while those who are mentally retarded or have poor impulse control or bad lawyers don't end up as pawns in a political exercise things would be different. But instead we have gone the opposite direction, with grandstanding politicians introducing bills to expand the death penalty to whatever politically advantageous additional crime they can bloviate about from a podium on a regular basis.

The likelihood of a death sentence seems to have a much more reliable relationship to the political aspirations of the DA, the socio-economic status of the victim, and the county in which the crime occurs than anything else. And as a result it is certain - not "likely" or "probable" but "certain" that someone who is not guilty of killing anyone will be executed in California if we keep on as we have been doing. I'm sure it's happened in the past; the thing is that no one usually bothers to exonerate dead people. And I'm absolutely not OK with executing a few innocent people along with the guilty just to make Dave feel better about himself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 18, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I agree with much of what you wrote -- in theory. But I do not think the system is good enough to provide that sufficient certainty, in practice. I want Davis to be unequivocally, utterly separated from society for his duration, but I do not want to spend the tremendous extra expense to house, treat or punish him differently from others. I just want him gone -- I would certainly honor his wish to be dispatched if he made one, but that's another discussion.

You've steered clear of the race issue, but I cannot. Minorities are Much more likely to get Death, regardless of their crime's rank on the heinousness scale. That is yet another indication (in addition to the 144 innocents) of the system's imperfections. Again, it's a human institution and I do not think it can be perfected, so the one punishment that cannot be reversed should be avoided.

Last time I was called to jury duty, a voire dire inquiry asked whether it was worse to convict an innocent than free a guilty defendant. When I (truthfully) answered 'yes,' I was out of there in no time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Farmer Dave
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Farmer Dave is a registered user.

Great news!

Since it is MUCH less expensive to give them life w/o possibility of parole, this should help with CA's budget problems.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

You folks are so naive with regard to these super hardened criminals. They don't give a damn about you or anyone else not even themselves.

The solution is very simple...an eye for an eye and a life for a life and all within 60 days or sooner.

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Jul 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm

So, please, Julia: do tell us where you get your personal insight into the thought processes of every single one of the people on Death Row. Members of your family perhaps?

And while you're at it, explain to us "naifs" the thinking of the people on death row who were wrongfully convicted. Do they "give a damn?" Do you "give a damn" how many innocent people are executed?

I say, the first person we execute is Julia Pardini. What? Not guilty you say? So what? If we can't frame you good enough to get past a 60 day deadline we're not hardly trying.

The interesting thing is that the average time between conviction and exoneration of people we know were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in this country is over 10 years. Another interesting thing is that in dozens of cases where the Innocence Project inconveniently proved that the convicted criminal was actually not guilty their work in opening the case led to the apprehension and prosecution of the real perpetrator.

But that's all way too complicated for Julia. As she herself puts it, she bases her analysis on the sophisticated analysis the folks from Iraq - in 1770 B.C.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. Bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

Well I realize I'm of unpopular belief here, but I absolutely believe in the death penalty and am saddened California can't "do better" when it comes to administering it to some 743+ on our death row. It isn't a question of being a deterrent to me, as much as a form of justice for heinous, murderous acts against other human beings that always, devastate far more than just one life, but entire families. Civilized society needs a form of justice instead of keeping these people on d.r. at the cost of some $28-30K PER YEAR for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. A million or more dollars per person to merely keep them alive for 30 years? With all the benefits of d.r. in prison of exercise, television, computers and fed and clothed? I think not. A civilized society must be RESPONSIBLE in meting out appropriate justice. I certainly would prefer Utah's old efficient if not less expensive method of the firing squad. We seem to botch nationwide, both the electric chair and lethal injections.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. Bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

Well I realize I'm of unpopular belief here, but I absolutely believe in the death penalty and am saddened California can't "do better" when it comes to administering it to some 743+ on our death row. It isn't a question of being a deterrent to me, as much as a form of justice for heinous, murderous acts against other human beings that always, devastate far more than just one life, but entire families. Civilized society needs a form of justice instead of keeping these people on d.r. at the cost of some $28-30K PER YEAR for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. A million or more dollars per person to merely keep them alive for 30 years? With all the benefits of d.r. in prison of exercise, television, computers and fed and clothed? I think not. A civilized society must be RESPONSIBLE in meting out appropriate justice. I certainly would prefer Utah's old efficient if not less expensive method of the firing squad. We seem to botch nationwide, both the electric chair and lethal injections.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl Lee Hailey
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

Ms Bunny -- many people obviously agree with you. Your seem to assume that everyone who received the death penalty deserved it -- do you consider the 144 innocents (that we know-of) to be just collateral damage? Is it worth it to kill all those people?

Also, because it's well-documented that minorities receive the death penalty disproportionately often (vs. white defendants), do you believe that their crimes were routinely more 'heinous' and 'muderous' than those of white people? If not, how is that justice?

Finally, would your economic argument (a million taxpayer dollars for thirty years in jail) change is you were to learn that just the Trial of a capital case costs $1 million More than the Same case where the death penalty is not sought? AND that it costs more than twice as much -- every year -- to house capital prisoners on death row as in the general population?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 25, 2014 at 8:07 am

Carl, you are looking for the PERFECT solution and as you must know? There is none. Justice must be tempered with REASON. Inmates on d.r. have a period of 10 years to appeal. TEN YEARS CARL. If we can't get to the bottom of the truth by then? (-as we have in MANY cases you fail to acknowledge...) Then I believe we must take the action deemed appropriate for the crime(s) Life is full of those who "fall through the cracks" and if you're an idealist? You want to say everyone from everything when in fact? That is neither realistic or possible. Personally? After a ten year investment in their lives AFTER being tried by a jury of their peers? -At the rate of over a half-million after all is "said and done" ? NO. This ISN'T about race Carl (sigh...) it's about A FORM OF JUSTICE that is ALSO needed in CIVILIZED though IMPERFECT SOCIETY.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

oops. Not "say" but SAVE.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl Lee Hailey
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

Please allow me to summarize, if I may:

It's okay to kill a hundred-or-more innocents as a system 'imperfection.' They just 'fall through the cracks.' To do otherwise would be idealistic.

It's not about race, because you say so, dammit, and

You also have no answer regarding your primary argument on the economics of CP system.

Thanks for clearing that up. So much for reasoned justice.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 26, 2014 at 10:40 am

Carl. Do calm down dear. I'm not looking for your approval, just stating my opinion vs. yours. This is merely a blog of opinions, not the "word of God" here - by you? Or, by me. Take your anger on the subject elsewhere if you can't converse civilly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl Lee Hailey
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 27, 2014 at 6:31 am

So, uncivil is it? It seems more like cognitive dissonance to me. Pretty timid response, hiding behind your whiskers.

You see 'opinions' are matters of taste, like world's best carrots. You stated a 'conclusion,' based on your own stated 'facts' that turn out to be false. I just wondered if that state of affairs might alter your 'conclusion,' or whether you cared about other injustices associated with state-sponsored death.

I have my answer, if indirectly. It's what I get for venturing down the rabbit hole.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 27, 2014 at 11:22 am

Like I said Carl, grow up, calm down and here is a refreshing thought dear, "big boys and girls" usually don't have to resort to name calling in order to be heard (pathetic)

You don't like my opinion? Not a problem.
I'm not partial to yours either (sigh)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl Lee Hailey
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Ah. Another spirited defense of your ideas.

BTW, you've labelled me angry, uncivil, "dear" in sarcasm, and in need of growing up -- and accused me of calling you names. All those things, for no good reason I can find in the words I actually wrote -- e.g., what name did I call you? I can't find it.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Not Endorsements
By Roz Rogoff | 9 comments | 1,229 views

A second half of life exceptionally well lived
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 651 views