Friday, March 2, 2012


California initiative to abolish the state's death penalty will be on November's ballot.
A group hoping to replace the state’s death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole submitted signature petitions Thursday to place the measure on the November ballot.

The group, which calls itself Savings, Accountability, Full Enforcement or SAFE – reports that it submitted 800,000 signatures. A total of 504,760 must be found to be valid for the initiative to qualify.

The group has lined up some impressive backers, including the author of the state’s current death penalty law, a former San Quentin warden, and one of the advocates of the state’s 1978 death penalty initiative.
I will be voting in favor of this measure.


Mr. D said...

I've always struggled with this issue, but I would vote for this, too. If you give the state the power of life and death, it will inevitably use it.

Bike Bubba said...

My take here is Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13; the state has the power of the sword, whether we like it or not, and hence the question is not whether it will be used, but whether it will be used correctly.

And in this case, if we've got a number of people being released from death row due to bad testimony or suppressed evidence, we owe it to ourselves to start going after the perjurers, not free people from death row.

Yeah, it would be hard to keep cops on the beat in some Illinois districts, but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

Gino said...

shall we stone adulterors, too?

i dont disagree with a single word of the scriptures, but it was a different time and place way back then. many things have changed, up to and including the functions and make-up of a 'state'.

i believe that juries are fallable, as are judges. i'd rather see a 100000 miserable lives spent behind bars than one innocent put down.

Brian said...

This isn't hard for me at all.

Too much chance of getting wrong, too much evidence that we have, too irrevocable when we do. Being against the death penalty as it actually exists and is carried out (i.e., imperfectly) is the only morally defensible position, regardless of what anyone's magic book says.

Bike Bubba said...

Gino; did you see me quote the Mosaic law? Nice red herring, but I cited Romans, not Leviticus.

Or, put differently, there is a hazard when corrupt Illinois police suppress exculpatory evidence. There is a bigger issue, however, when the state tells prospective murderers that the worst they fear is three hots and a cot--one big reason that murder has dropped precipitously since the death penalty was reinstated.

Brian said...

when the state tells prospective murderers that the worst they fear is three hots and a cot--one big reason that murder has dropped precipitously since the death penalty was reinstated.

If this is true, then why is the average murder rate in non-death penalty states consistently lower than in death penalty states? And why have murder rates fallen in non-death penalty states over the same time period?

Note that I'm not arguing that not having the death penalty causes the murder rate to be lower. Just that the opposite assertion is not borne out by the numbers.

Gino said...

yeah Bubba. it was a red herring, and i'll plead guilty to that.

and i dont have too much of a problem with perjurors being subjected to the same punishment they attempted to inflict on the innocent.

the state does have the power of the sword. the Church never denies that. the question is whether it is necessary in just societies today to protect citizens from those who would prey upon them.

Bike Bubba said...

Brian; regarding the drop in non-death penalty states, I didn't say it was the only factor. That said, two things are in play; increased incarceration of offenders, and the federal death penalty (see "Dru Sjodin case").

Regarding the relative drops, you're looking at figures like this:

To which I reply; the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, not 1990. The graph is drawn from the wrong place, and for that matter, there is a strong regional bias. Put differently, Georgia differs a wee bit from Minnesota in culture.

Finally, a point we can both agree on; there is the possibility that having a death penalty induces politicians to get complacent about other factors related to crime.