Judicial Watch Issues Report on California ‘End the Death Penalty’ Ballot Initiative
JW terms so-called ‘SAFE’ California Act (Prop 34) ‘both disingenuous and deceptive’
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch today released “The End of the Death Penalty Initiative,” a special report on the administration and impact of California’s death penalty. The report also raises questions about California Proposition 34, also known as the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California (SAFE Act) Initiative,” which is currently on the state’s 2012 ballot. Currently, more than 700 inmates await execution on California’s death row, all of whom would escape the death penalty should the so-called SAFE Act Initiative be passed.
The most serious problem with the application of the death penalty in California, the JW study finds is not the cost, as opponents claim, but what it terms “the overt abuse” of the writ of habeas corpus process, which results in “delays of five to ten years or more.”
Bolstering its argument that California’s death penalty is a deterrent to criminals who might otherwise murder their victims in the commission of a crime, the Judicial Watch report details the cases of 15 convicts who declared that they had spared the lives of their victims solely out of a fear of the death penalty.
“Any law enforcement officer or prosecutor who has worked with the criminal element,” the Judicial Watch report concludes, knows that career criminals have a “jaded value system that does not mind doing time for a crime, but puts the death penalty in a category of punishment that is to be avoided.”
The JW report also provides in graphic detail case summaries of more than a dozen California death row inmates whose death sentences would be commuted should the so-called SAFE Act Initiative be passed, as well as the statements of victims’ next of kin who strongly oppose death-penalty repeal. Included in the report is a lengthy summary of California’s “Night Stalker” serial murderer, whose death sentence would be set aside should the SAFE Initiative become law.
“Reforms to the death penalty,” the Judicial Watch study concludes, “should be limited to speeding up the judicial process and sensible safeguards to protect the innocent. Retroactive elimination of the death penalty for 700-plus inmates would be affront to the thousands of victims, living and dead, of the heinous murderers currently sitting on death row.”
“The safety of every California resident depends on the existence of the death penalty. You can improve it and have it take less time, but don’t destroy it,” said Sterling “Ernie” Norris, former Los Angeles County Prosecutor and head of Judicial Watch’s West Coast office.