It is our job to see that it stays there. The political principle at stake is quite simple: This should perhaps be stated in the obverse:
Why did death penalty repeal fail in California?
The significant shift in public opinion against the death penalty is incredibly encouraging for abolitionists both nationally and in California.
At the same time that Californians voted to keep the death penalty, a larger percentage of them also voted to reduce the harshest punishments associated with the "three strikes" law. With the clear and significant decline in support of the death penalty in California, and with voters choosing to soften the harsh penalties in "three strikes" law, what caused the SAFE Act to fail?
One obvious reason was the rallying of staunch supporters of capital punishment against the measure, despite the SAFE Act being written in such a way as to appeal especially to those groups.
This strategy also ignored many key groups of activists that could have rallied enthusiastically behind another kind of measure. The sponsors of the SAFE Act simply did not put forward an initiative based on principled human rights that progressive abolitionists and prison reform fighters could unite behind.
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty CEDP has been critical of the conservative approach taken by abolitionists in the handful of states that have recently abolished the death penalty. Life without parole LWOP has been promoted as the just alternative to the death sentences, and tough on crime and cost-cutting language has been put at the forefront of the public campaign in favor of the initiative.
The idea was that during a time of severe budget crisis, ordinary Californians would be looking to root out "innefficient" government spending such as the expense associated with the death penalty. For many people, however, these cold financial calculations are not what challenges their position on the death penalty.
As Texas death penalty defense lawyer David Dow argued in a recent article: On its website, the authors of the SAFE Act explain that "This means convicted killers will remain behind bars forever — with no risk of executing an innocent person.
Because LWOP does not have the guaranteed state funded appeals that come with a death sentence, prisoners are left with very little means to prove they are innocent.
Again from the SAFE website: The prospect of serving an LWOP sentence, without access to appeals, is what prompted many death row prisoners in California to speak out against Proposition Of the 60 or so responses, only four prisoners wrote in favor of the act.
Prisoners were most concerned about their access to appeals. Death row prisoner Kevin Cooper has exhausted his appeals despite the mountain of evidence that points to his innocence, and is in line for execution when and if they resume.
In his statement about the SAFE Act, Kevin decried the fact that the sponsors of the bill had failed to reach out to prisoners, and he discussed his opposition to LWOP, because of the lack of access to appeals and because of the inhumane nature of this harsh sentence.
We want to end this injustice, not help strengthen it. This kind of thinking leaves aside the fact that both lawmakers and the general public have been hugely affected by questions of innocence, as exemplified by the battles against executions in high profile cases like those of Stan Tookie Williams in California and Troy Davis in Georgia.
Innocence is the biggest factor in the decline of support for the death penalty nationally over the last 10 years. Dozens of people have been exonerated from death row and from prison, and polls show that most people believe that innocent people have been and will continue to be executed.
The recent release of Anthony Graves from Texas death row, and the scandal surrounding executed prisoners in Texas like Cameron Todd Willingham, falsely accused of setting an arson fire that killed his three children, have had a massive impact on the death penalty debate.
Innocence was also determining factor in the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois inand was at the center of the struggle to save the life of Troy Davis in Georgia in The Troy Davis case also shined a spotlight on the pervasive racism endemic in the death penalty and the whole justice system.
Racism plays a huge role in how innocent people land on death row. For example in Illinois a police torture ring specifically targeted black men in Chicago, resulting in dozens of false confessions. The fight to save the prisoners known as the Death Row 10 and other police torture victims led to the moratorium by then-Governor George Ryan and to the pardon of four members of the Death Row It is these kinds of struggles around innocence and against racism and police and prosecutorial misconduct that will ultimately galvanize the whole abolitionist community.
Abolitionists and justice system reform activists in California could have united together around a measure that took up these issues and that put prisoners, former prisoners, family members of prisoners and victims in the front lines of a campaign against the death penalty.
We have seen the impact that campaigns around single cases can have on the way that people view the death penalty.
It is fights like the movement for justice for wrongfully executed prisoner Stan Tookie Williams in California that show us the way forward in our struggle. Uniting the abolition movement with struggles against racism and for reform in the criminal justice system is also key.
California activist Cameron Sturdevant summed it up this way on the day after the election: I am unalterably opposed to the death penalty and I look forward to continuing the fight to end it.
It could inspire a new generation of activists to take up a principled cause for social justice. In the end, our movement is not simply about ending the death penalty.
It is about fighting against injustice and for the humanity of all people, whether behind bars or not. As Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and that includes the millions of victims of the racist criminal "injustice" system.State Senate elections; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; Special; State Assembly elections; ; ; Prop 35 has hundreds of endorsements from law enforcement, politicians, Jada Pinkett Smith (now a big celebrity voice against human trafficking) and nonprofit leaders including Nola Brantley, Executive Director of MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth), a survivor-led organization.
Proposition 8 countermanded the ruling by adding the same provision as in Proposition 22 to the California Constitution, providing that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California", thereby superseding the ruling.
Vaclav Havel: Bruce Bawer has a fascinating essay on the life and achievements of Vaclav benjaminpohle.com those who may not know, Havel was a playwright who gave up a potential life of privilege as a government-sponsored writer to become a leader of the dissident movement in Communist Czechoslovakia in the s.
Prop. 34 proponents are perpetuating a huge FRAUD against California voters, knowing that with the millions of out-of-state dollars they can repeat their lies enough times that voters will begin to accept them.
Arguments Against Proposition Proposition 34 the framework for failed Proposition Opponents of the death penalty prepared a campaign that was known as the Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act (SAFE California).
The campaign was designed to abolish the death penalty and impose strict and harsh .