Tag Archive: California Death Penalty

Nov 02 2012

Is the California Death Penalty Toast?

Share

The newly renovated San Quentin Prison Death Chamber

AP Photo

Perhaps, or maybe the California Death Penalty will be abolished according to the latest California Field Poll.

With concern over the cost of capital punishment rising, California voters may be poised for a historic vote to abolish the state’s death penalty, a new Field Poll indicates.

Support for the measure, Proposition 34, remains below 50 percent. But the poll released this morning found 45 percent of likely voters favor replacing the punishment with life in prison, while 38 percent oppose doing away with capital punishment.

Another 17 percent say they remain undecided.

The latest survey shows support for abolishing the death penalty rising as Election Day nears. A Field Poll released in September found 42 percent in favor of the measure and 45 percent opposed, with 13 percent undecided at that time.

“It’s certainly an encouraging poll for the Proposition 34 supporters, but it still has a long way to go,” Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said. “It’s got to get above 50 percent, and it’s moving in the right direction.”

DiCamillo said many measures tend to lose support after voters take a closer look at the issues, but Proposition 34 “is actually gaining strength as voters learn more about it.”

Nahhhh, the California Death Penalty is going nowhere.

Former California Governor’s Deukmejian and Wilson just recently came out against Proposition 34.

Also, law enforcement will go to the radio over the weekend and remind voters what this proposition would do.

This is not to say that the election will be closer than the previous one in 1978.

But, not this election will the death penalty be abolished.

Here is the Field Poll graphic:

California Death Penalty Field Poll

Share

Jul 26 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: July 26, 2012

Share

Audience watches the San Bernardino City Council on July 18 declare a fiscal emergency and begin preparations to file for bankruptcy protection. LA Times Photo

Good Thursday morning!

The California Legislature is not in session for a summer recess.

The California Assembly has adjourned until August 6, 2012 and the California State Senate is also in adjournment.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

There is a great deal of California Water news today, but I will NOT be covering it. My lovely wife works for a large, Southern California water company and anything I would write would be seen as a direct conflict to either her employer or us.

So, on to the other California headlines:

Bankrupt San Bernardino must cut spending by a third

San Bernardino must cut government spending by a third, almost assuredly resulting in widespread layoffs or pay reductions for city workers, as it prepares to officially file for bankruptcy protection, city officials said.

Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller told the City Council that it must cut $45.8 million from the $166-million budget to ensure the city remains solvent throughout the current fiscal year, which runs through next June. Crafting the austerity plan will be required as part of the Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy process.

“By any definition, a 30% budget cut in a single fiscal year is a severe haircut. Indeed, you might even call it a scalping,” Mayor Patrick Morris said at a special council meeting on the city’s fiscal crisis Tuesday evening.

At the meeting, the seven-member council voted unanimously to suspend debt payments and freeze staff vacancies, saving $5.4 million in July alone, the first and easiest step in what’s expected to be a budgetary bloodletting in the months ahead.

Death penalty repeal pits Mayor Villaraigosa vs. former Gov. Wilson

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa goes up against former Gov. Pete Wilson in a debate over the death penalty that will be coming soon to mailboxes throughout California.

Villaraigosa signed the ballot argument to be included in the official state voter guide on Proposition 34, which would repeal the state’s death penalty if approved on the November ballot. Wilson signed the “no” argument.

“Proposition 34 lets serial killers, cop killers, child killers and those who kill the elderly, escape justice,” says the argument against the measure, also signed by Keith Royal, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., and Marc Klaas, who became an advocate for crime victims after his 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was murdered.

Downtown L.A.’s Underwater Home Mortgage Crisis

In many movies, downtown Los Angeles is a stand-in for New York City. Its nooks and crannies mimic that most urban of American cities, and Ramon Garcia’s condo on Seventh and Spring streets is no exception. His seventh-floor window overlooks a courtyard in the Bartlett, a 1911 bank designed by the architects who planned City Hall, and his 550-square-foot residence is smaller than a racquetball court.

But one detail would be unthinkable in New York. If he sold it, Garcia estimates he’d get $105,000 — half what he paid in 2005. While 30 percent to 60 percent of the Inland Empire’s homes have “underwater mortgages,” making that region a national symbol of the nation’s housing crisis, rarely reported is that downtown L.A. is just as “underwater” as Riverside: Its residents owe far more than their homes are worth.

“It kind of sucks, because I don’t know if it will ever be worth what I paid for it,” Garcia says.

According to Zillow Real Estate Research, 31 percent of American homes are underwater, about like the city of L.A. (Other data peg the percentage lower.) But in 90014, Garcia’s ZIP code, an astonishing 78 percent of condos and lofts are underwater. Nearly four out of every five residents in the area roughly bounded by Sixth Street, Ninth Street, San Pedro Street and Grand Avenue own places worth far less than the loan they signed.

In the United States, ZIP code 90014 is in the top 1 percent of underwater mortgages.

And it’s bad all over downtown.

ZIP codes that extend from downtown north and south into other areas are underwater, by 66 percent (90017: part of the Financial District and part of Pico-Union), 64 percent (90021: part of Industrial District, Warehouse District and part of Skid Row), 51 percent (90012: City Hall, Civic Center, Chinatown), 44 percent (90013: site of Downtown Art Walk, part of Skid Row), and 36 percent (90015: South Park, L.A. Live, Fashion District).

Vallejo leaves bankruptcy period behind, charts new course

This hard-hit former Navy town, just up Interstate 80 from San Francisco’s glittering lights, weathered its humiliation long enough as California’s first sizable city to file for bankruptcy protection.

Now as Stockton, San Bernardino and perhaps other California cities head into their own bankruptcy proceedings, Vallejo wants people to know it’s on the mend.

It balanced its general fund budget last year and socked away nearly twice the reserves the bankruptcy judge ordered after the city nearly died – belly up and devastated – in 2008.

But its financial challenges aren’t over.

While Vallejo, population 118,000, emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2011, it continues to push for more benefit concessions from employees and retirees in the interest of long-term solvency.

“People ask whether it was worth it,” Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said of the city’s slide into a bankruptcy filing and hard recovery since. “That question suggests we had an option. It was filing bankruptcy or not existing as a city any more.”

Enjoy your morning!

Share

May 14 2012

California Death Penalty Initiative Faces Legal Challenge

Share

The newly renovated San Quentin Prison Death Chamber

AP Photo

It is a challenge to the single subject rule for California initiatives.

The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation petitioned the 3rd District Court of Appeals today to remove from the November ballot a proposal to abolish the death penalty in California, arguing it violates the state’s “single-subject rule” for initiatives.

The foundation said abolishing the death penalty while also authorizing the distribution of $100 million to local law enforcement agencies to help solve murder and rape cases violates a requirement that ballot measures address only one subject.

Who knows what the California Supreme Court will ultimately hold on this initiative to ban the California Death Penalty?

But, the initiative will NOT pass in November anyway.

In the meantime, California executions should start again with a single drug protocol.

Share

Apr 24 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 24, 2012

Share

Mission San Fernando

Good Tuesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

Remember: Friday is the last day for policy committees to pass fiscal bills introduced in their house. So, there will be some action around the Capitol this week.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Calif. death penalty ban qualifies for Nov. ballot

A measure to abolish California’s death penalty qualified for the November ballot on Monday.

If it passes, the 725 California inmates now on Death Row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It would also make life without parole the harshest penalty prosecutors can seek.

Backers of the measure say abolishing the death penalty will save the state millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense attorneys who handle death penalty cases, as well as savings from not having to maintain the nation’s largest death row at San Quentin prison.

Those savings, supporters argue, can be used to help unsolved crimes. If the measure passes, $100 million in purported savings from abolishing the death penalty would be used over three years to investigate unsolved murders and rapes.

The measure is dubbed the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act,” also known as the SAFE California Act. It’s the fifth measure to qualify for the November ballot, the California secretary of state announced Monday. Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.

“Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake,” said Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin who is now an anti-death penalty advocate and an official supporter of the measure.

The measure will also require most inmates sentenced to life without parole to find jobs within prisons. Most death row inmates do not hold prison jobs for security reasons.

Though California is one of 35 states that authorize the death penalty, the state hasn’t put anyone to death since 2006. A federal judge that year halted executions until prison officials built a new death chamber at San Quentin Prison, developed new lethal injection protocols and made other improvements to delivering the lethal three-drug combination.

A separate state lawsuit is challenging the way the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation developed the new protocols. A judge in Marin County earlier this year ordered the CDCR to redraft its lethal injection protocols, further delaying executions.

Lawmakers pushing to tie California minimum wage to consumer price index

Gasoline was selling for $3.33 a gallon, Jerry Brown was attorney general, and California was bracing for a budget crisis when the state’s hourly minimum wage rose to $8 in early 2008.

Fast forward to now, and much has changed: Gas is almost a dollar higher, Brown is governor, and the state is reeling from years of red ink. But the minimum wage hasn’t budged a cent.

New legislation would change that, ensuring future increases for the state’s lowest-wage workers while letting lawmakers evade political heat by taking the hot-button issue out of their hands.

Assembly Bill 1439 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo would prohibit the minimum wage from being lowered as consumer prices fall but would mandate increases as prices rise. The indexing would be expected to hike the minimum wage about 14 cents next January, but more importantly, it would set the stage for what could be annual hikes in years to come.

Alejo, D-Watsonville, bills his measure as a way to boost the economy by putting more money in the pockets of workers struggling to provide food, clothes and housing for their families.

“When minimum-wage workers have more money to spend, they spend it,” he said. “They can’t afford to save it. That is good for all businesses.”

The state Chamber of Commerce has labeled AB 1439 a “job-killer” bill. Other opponents range from the California Restaurant Association to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“Now is not the time to increase the cost of doing business in California, when businesses are just now showing signs of recovery,” said Jennifer Barrera, a chamber lobbyist.

AB 1439 puts the minimum wage on “autopilot,” Barrera said, “which we don’t think is appropriate.” Lawmakers should not simply let statistics dictate rates without considering other factors, she said.


Dan Walters: California finally has a plan to cut prison costs

Whether California was under siege from crime is questionable, but Republicans bludgeoned Democratic politicians as soft on crime, and Brown didn’t want to be a victim.

He and legislators responded with lock-‘em-up crime measures aimed at putting more felons behind bars. California’s prison population, about 20,000 inmates, started climbing, and late in his governorship, Brown agreed to place a small construction bond issue on the ballot.

Not only did inmate numbers swell, but operational costs ballooned as governors and legislators provided the very powerful California Correctional Peace Officers Association with generous – probably overly so – contracts, a consequence of Brown’s granting full bargaining rights to public employee unions.

By the time Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, the prison population had increased eight-fold, and its costs 20-fold, becoming a major factor in the state’s chronic deficits.

Despite spending countless billions on new prisons, they were so overcrowded and dysfunctional that the federal courts had seized control of prison medical care and were threatening to take over the entire system. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce the prison population by tens of thousands of inmates.

Brown and legislators responded with “realignment,” which diverts lower-level felons from prison into county jails, along with the money to pay for their care and supervision.


California prison overhaul would save $1.5B a year

California prison officials released a wide-ranging reorganization plan Monday that calls for halting a $4 billion prison-construction program and bringing back all inmates held out of state.

The master plan outlines the department’s recommendations for ending years of federal court oversight, overcrowding, poor inmate medical and mental health treatment, and soaring budgets.

It came at a time when the nation’s largest state prison system is being transformed by ongoing state budget deficits, federal court orders and a realignment ordered by the governor that shifts its focus to the most violent and dangerous offenders.

The changes are possible because of a state law that took effect Oct. 1 that shifts lower-level offenders from state prisons to county jails. That shift is the main consequence of a federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison population as a way to improve inmate medical care.

“It’s a massive change to our system,” Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate said at a Capitol news conference.

Lowering the inmate population eliminates the need for $4.1 billion in construction projects and will let the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reduce its annual budget by $1.5 billion, officials said.

The plan calls for returning to state prisons by 2016 about 9,500 inmates who are currently housed in private prisons in other states. That alone would save the state $318 million a year.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters in his daily video discusses the “historic” nature of California’s upcoming primary:

Share

Mar 01 2012

California Death Penalty Opponents Submit Initiative Signatures for November Ballot

Share

The newly renovated San Quentin Prison Death Chamber

AP Photo

California death penalty opponents who wish to abolish the death penalty and substitute life in prison with a possibility of parole submitted 800,000 initiative petition signatures today to elections officials.

Capital punishment opponents announced Thursday they have submitted 800,000 signatures to election authorities to put a measure on the November ballot that would ask voters to replace the death penalty with sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

Efforts to repeal the death penalty have failed repeatedly in California since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978.

But organizers of the SAFE California Act contend that polls show majority support for an initiative that would replace death sentences with an ironclad guarantee that the worst criminals stay in prison for the rest of their lives.

Supporters of the initiative say it will save the state hundreds of millions that would be better spent on schools and public safety.

“Those of us in law enforcement know that the best way to prevent crime is to solve it. Replacing the death penalty with a punishment of life in prison without parole will free up funds for critical tools like DNA testing in the shocking 46% of murder and 56% of reported rape cases that remain unsolved in our state every year,” said Jeanne Woodford, a former warden at San Quentin State Prison who oversaw four executions during her tenure.

She is now campaigning for the initiative to replace death with life sentences. The signatures submitted to county election officials in each of the 58 counties must be verified, but campaign sponsors said they were confident they would easily surpass the 504,000 valid endorsements needed to get the issue on the ballot in November.

What would the supporters propose for the very heinous crimes or murder of prison corrections officers by prisoners already serving a life or lengthy sentence?

The California courts need badly to reform the appeals process and start enforcing the current law. Without the purposeful obstacles of the anti-death penalty crowd, many of the felons on California’s death row would have been executed years ago.

I doubt this initiative will pass, particularly when the ads start to run about some of the scum that are awaiting their maker on San Quentin’s death row.

And, the costs? It will cost more without the death penalty.

But those who support capital punishment say the opponents’ cost-savings figures are inflated. The number of new death sentences fell dramatically last year and for the last decade have been well below the rate of the 1990s, said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

“The other side of the coin is the cost of keeping all of these prisoners to the end of their lives, if the promise of true life-without-parole is to be kept,” he said. “Medical costs are a large and growing part of the corrections budget, and those costs escalate dramatically with age.”

Share

Older posts «