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Big Effin' Deal from Jan Adams

UPDATE NO. 3: I've edited or removed several comments urging people to vote for certain items in three or four different states. This blog and this post are not a political billboard. Please, no electioneering.

UPDATE NO. 2: If the video below is missing, it is due to YouTube being intermittently unavailable as a result of Sandy. Check back later.

UPDATE EARLY TUESDAY MORNING: I wrote this post over the weekend to help give me some time off this week but now there is Sandy.

Taking nothing away from California Prop34 and Jan Adams, please feel free to also discuss the mega-storm in the comments below. I'm surely interested in hearing from readers who are affected and I'm sure others are too.

category_bug_politics.gif In case you've been wondering where Time Goes By's Gay and Gray column has been for most of this year, blame it on the writer, Jan Adams, who keeps her own blog at Can It Happen Here?

Jan took on a most important and heavily time-consuming project in 2012 – the effort to repeal the death penalty in California, and it's making astonishing progress.

Just last week, the endeavor got great notices at Hullabaloo and Talking Points Memo on the same day.

TPM reported that polling on Proposition 34 was at a statistical dead heat. Here, from Jan's blog, is the best video about it:

In case you missed any of the points, here they are in writing:

The death penalty is no BLEEPING laughing matter. But when you learn that the death penalty will cost California tax payers $1 billion dollars over the next 5 years, it costs a lot less to keep someone in jail for life than it is to put them on death row, it does not deter crime and make our communities safer and the US has sentenced 140 innocent people to death since 1973, it can be viewed as a joke!

VOTE YES on Prop 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole in California.

Hey, Californians, please do that. If Prop 34 passes, to a great extent it will be due to Jan's hard work all year and as such things often happen, it could be the beginning of a death penalty rollback in other states.

There is another little note for you at The Elder Storytelling Place today.


Hey -- cool post on this morning when we are all worrying about our East Coast friends!

As we spoke to our son in Tarrytown, N.Y., "The lights just flickered." Later in the afternoon power went but the building learned a lesson from storm Irene. Installed a back up generator. Next worry: people stuck in the City, trees, damage o schools, businesses.

[snip] Here in Oregonian it's a challenge for a New Yorker to get used to government by ballot measures.

All excellent reasons to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment.

In fact, the US has likely sentenced many more than 140 innocent people to death since 1973. We've learned, for example, how unreliable eye-witness testimony can be.

Yet it's convincing to a jury because the person testifying firmly believes that she or he has correctly identified the perpetrator of a crime.

The Innocence Project has resulted in the release of many prisoners, based on DNA analysis not developed at the time of the original trial. They're the lucky ones. What about those sent to prison and possibly executed for crimes where no DNA traces were left?

Sandy: Check Tugster, G Captain, and Maritiime Matters for other Sandy News.

Bowsprite has very good coverage on her blog. Well illustrated too...with lots of links.

If it takes the "saving money" issue to repeal the death penalty, so be it. My reasons for opposing the death penalty are: it's not an effective deterrent, we don't know what causes someone to become a serial murderer, life in prison IS a horrible punishment anyway and killing someone who killed someone else is a crazy thing to do.

I spent 3 years working in 5 prisons in a program to reduce recidivism in Washington State and learned a lot about what it's like to live in prison from the men and women I knew there. Forget what you've heard about it being a "country club." No way. The worst parts are being away from family and being trapped inside a huge building with a bunch of angry, sad people.

On another note, I sit here in sunny Arizona watching the news about Sandy and wondering how soon this type of storm will happen in the future. As a science teacher, I taught my students the triggers necessary for a hurricane to form: warm ocean, warm air rapidly cooling as you move higher and sustained winds in the same direction. The temperature of our oceans is increasing and to me, this is very scary. Maybe we need to rethink living on the coast?

Interesting, Kathleen. My reason for opposing the death penalty - aside from its immorality and the unspeakable possibility of executing the wrong person - is related to how mean I am.

If it is proved that a person has done something so awful that he/she must be removed from society, I want them to suffer. Really suffer. Every day. For a long time. Their whole life.

Your description sounds just about right.

I'm very much against the death penalty. Haven't studied it, though. Why is it cheaper NOT to kill them? Doesn't seem logical. If there are less prisoners, you'd think it would cost less to house/feed them.

I've the same question as Nikki. How could it be cheaper to feed, clothe, and house a person for life than to execute him/her?

As for Sandy ... the current ongoing tragedy aside, it seems to me this is a good demonstration of what global warming and rising sea levels could do.

I have a friend living in the area of Manhattan that suffered the power outage. What a terrible situation for anyone who has a medical crisis during that time. I am sure my friend is okay, but I am very sorry for the others.

I have always been against the death penalty for two reasons. Murder is still murder whether it is an individual that kills or whether the state commits the murder. Texas is a ripe example of the abuse of the law.

Good for Jan. I see her name in my in-box frequently on this issue and know she has worked very hard. I hope California shows good judgment and repeals this terrible law.

Since we've not had power since 7pm yesterday, I sit here writing this at my daughter's house along with others also without power.
We'll enjoy a hot meal and for some a hot shower before heading back to our cold/dark homes.

It was very scary especially when you have people on the block with medical issues.

I should answer the cost question. I know many people think it must be cheaper to execute people, but that turns out not to be true. In death penalty cases under California law, there have be to two trials instead of one -- a guilt trial and penalty trial.

Then we have very strict law requiring appeals (a constitutionally necessary precaution if the state is going to kill someone) and only death penalty qualified lawyers can do them. Even though the state pays for appeals (people who get death sentences don't tend to have money), it can take years for one of the few lawyers who can do it to be assigned. Then it takes years to litigate.

And all that time people convicted with death sentences sit in single cells all day with special security and guards -- all very expensive. And it takes forever. Just yesterday the Ninth Circuit federal court decided that a guy who was convicted in 1978 deserved a new trial because his original lawyer had failed to raise relevant issues back then!

If we pass Prop. 34, there will be one state financed appeal probably taking no more than 18 months and then the convict will simply serve life in prison without parole, a horrible sentence as Kathleen points out.

People who have been victimized in awful ways deserve to feel that justice has been done. The current system just drags them back to their pain for literally decades -- and does nothing to solve the half of all California murders that go unsolved every year. We could use the money we waste on a largely symbolic death row far better on actual law enforcement. Or maybe even better schools if we want to prevent crime!

I guess I would have to see some empirical evidence that supporting a criminal for life costs less than executing him. I know of one local case here. There is a man serving a life sentence for raping and killing a 12 year-old girl, back in the 60s. He currently has 3 college degrees and has been married twice. Of course, there are all types of resources available to him; television, books, entertainment, correspondence, and so on. I think the costs you are referring to are due to the cumbersome appeal process, perhaps that should be modified. Besides, Aristotle called it catharsis. A sense of closure, revenge if you will. SD recently executed a man who raped and killed a 9 year-old girl. I am glad that he will never hurt another human being, and equally glad that he will be denied all the lavish benefits of today's prison system.

Is the death penalty debate considered a political issue?

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