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Three Ex-Governors Get Behind Measure to End Death Penalty Delays

Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian sign the petition that may put a pro-death penalty initiative before the California voters in November.

Death Row at San Quentin Prison. Patch file photo.
Death Row at San Quentin Prison. Patch file photo.

Three former governors signed a petition Thursday aimed at putting an initiative before voters in November designed to end lengthy delays in California executions, but a death-penalty opponent called the proposal “deeply flawed.”

Former Govs. Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian were among those attending a Los Angeles news conference to throw their support behind the proposal, which would shorten the length of the appeals process and require death-row inmates to share cells with other inmates -- a move supporters say would save millions of dollars.

“All three governors believe strongly that there should be a death penalty for the most heinous crimes in this state,” Davis said.

There has not been an execution in California since 2006.

“Families wait too long to finally get to that point where somebody's life is going to be taken for the crimes they have committed,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said.

Former professional football player Kermit Alexander, whose mother, sister and two nephews were killed in a 1984 home-invasion robbery in South Los Angeles, was also among those backing the initiative.

“My family was murdered brutally,” he said, noting that his relatives were killed “in a wrongful death situation because apparently the murderer couldn't read the right address and went to the wrong house.”

“We've been waiting over 30 years for justice,” he said.

Supporters of the initiative must collect more than 800,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.

Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, said the initiative is misguided.

“This deeply flawed initiative is full of legal and practical problems, and will only increase litigation and costs,” he said. “No matter what anyone might say, California's death penalty has repeatedly proven to be broken beyond repair. Instead of increasing the risk of executing innocent people and adding even more costs, we need to replace the dysfunctional death penalty system with life in prison without the possibility of parole.:

Cherry said support for the death penalty “is at historic lows, and more states are realizing that there are simply too many flaws in the system.”

--City News Service

SA February 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM
@Martha … Lay off the cool aid … It did not get Jimmy Jones anywhere nor will it for you.
Cat Burke February 22, 2014 at 04:34 PM
The most accurate, recent poll (Angus Reid, April 2013) found 86% death penalty support, with only 9% opposing all execution, the highest and lowest, respectively, that have ever been seen. As a rule Republicans/Conservatives show (more discretion and) higher support, plus 3-9% , within some polls. From 25-40 "actual innocents" have been discovered and released from death row . That is 0.4% of the 8400 sentenced to death in the modern death penalty era, post Gregg v Georgia (1976) - a 99.6% accuracy rate in actual guilty findings, with the 0.4% actual innocents being released upon appeal. But I can see none of you really care... You have your thoughts, mostly about each other and Obama. And your opinions, mostly about what you seem to be wearing or your religious beliefs. For SOME OF US, who are Victims of Murder, this matter of the Death Penalty has everything to do with our entire FUTURES... It is EVERYTHING to us, because the Murderer has taken everything else FROM US... http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/11/few-conservatives-embrace-anti-death.html
ChrisG February 23, 2014 at 09:20 AM
@cat, in your view which is better of the two possible outcomes, death or life without the possibility of parole? Which of those two choices provides more justice for your loss?
southernbelle February 23, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Chris, I'm pretty sure she will tell you there is no justice humanly possible for what happened in her family. @Cat, I remember your tragic story, and as a mother myself, I would want the death penalty unless there was a possibility of the young man being kept for life in a cold cement cell without the luxury of cigarettes, tv, or internet! I'm very very sorry for the nightmare you endured then, and still have to live with every day. I'm interested in hearing your answers to Chris's questions also.

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