California governor: Why I put a freeze on the death penalty
Newsome: As the tide turns toward a more just criminal justice system, California again has a responsibility to lead the way — and in doing so, show the world who we are and what we stand for. The death penalty as we know it represents an unfair, unjust and unequal system that does not make us safer.
GG: It should not be a matter of the death penalty making us safer; it is a matter of the most severe criminals on the planet paying the ultimate price for the crimes they committed.
Newsome: In California, we have the largest death row anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, with 737 people awaiting execution. More than six in 10 of them are African-American or Latino. Racial inequity has long plagued our death penalty process, and we know our state has sentenced at least five innocent people to death since 1973 (they were freed).
GG: Statistics show that African Americans are 13% of the population, but commit 50% of the crimes. No crime committed, no penalty. Whatever is the cause of this disparity; it has to be addressed starting at the infancy of ALL people through EDUCATION. Education is the ONLY answer to achievement of any degree.
Newsome: Most recently, we freed a man who spent more than 25 years on death row after being wrongfully convicted based on false evidence that California Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan called “hair-raising.” In this case and too many others, we almost made a fatal, irreversible mistake.
GG: I will agree that through the yeas there have been many unfortunate situations where a person was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. That was a total miscarriage of justice. My contention is; especially with the advent of DNA, where absolute proof has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt; anyone convicted of a crime punishable by death should be executed the next day.
Newsome: The crimes that have landed people on death row have inflicted deep and immeasurable pain on their victims and those victims’ loved ones. We must not compound those crimes by continuing to spend billions on a system that, at best, does not make us safer, and at worst, risks more innocent life.
GG: I feel very confident; if the survivors of the victims had their choice, at least 85% of them would rather see the criminal pay the ultimate price of the death penalty than see them lounging in prison the rest of their lives.
Newsome: After careful deliberation, I concluded that the heavy cost of the death penalty is one we can no longer afford — not just the financial burden on our justice system, but the moral cost of executing fellow Californians I took this action because death sentences are unevenly and unfairly applied based on race, income and mental disability, and because we cannot abide the potential execution of an innocent person.Any human action is prone to human error. There is no amount of certainty that can guarantee that an innocent person will not mistakenly be put to death. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that one in every 25 people on death row is wrongly convicted. Putting an innocent person to death is a mistake we cannot undo.
GG: I will partially agree with Newsome. The more financially well off a criminal is, the better chances they have of beating the rap.
Newsome: Our death penalty system has cost us $5 billion since 1978. That’s $5 billion we could have used to make our courts run more fairly and efficiently, or solve unsolved rapes and murders. We could have invested that money in strategies to decrease crime, support victims and survivors, and reduce recidivism. In fact, the death penalty has not proven to prevent violent crime. A Death Penalty Information Center analysis of US murder data from 1987 through 2015 found no evidence that the death penalty deters murder or protects police.
GG: IF the criminals who were convicted by way of absolute proof thru DNA evidence; it would save the country money if they were put to death the next day, instead of housing them for 20 year. Why should anyone convicted thru DNA (absolute proof of guilt) be afforded the luxury of being allowed appeals??
I am not suggesting that anyone be put to death that is innocent; I am suggesting, if absolute proof has been established by DNA; That is the time to put the hanging Judge Roy Bean back in business.