As a lifelong death penalty activist, I
appreciate Kenneth Hartman's passionate approach to the SAFE California
Act to replace the death penalty with life without parole. We can
eliminate the risk of executing even one innocent person in California
with Proposition 34. That's why I am voting "YES" in November.
Because I care so much about Prop. 34 I have to correct
some egregious errors in Mr. Hartman's article "Why I'd Vote for the
SAFE California Act."
1) It is wrong to say that Prop. 34 will condemn "thousands" of Californians to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Prop. 34 simply removes the death penalty as the maximum punishment for murder in California. This means that the over 700 inmates currently sentenced to death row would remain in high-security prison with no possibility of parole. Inmates not sentenced to death would not be affected.
2) Mr. Hartman incorrectly states that the initiative expands the number of crimes for which life without parole is a possible sentence. That is simply not true.
Mr. Hartman suggests that increasing the number of people serving life
without parole terms would increase the burden to taxpayers and aid the
"expensive prison system." In fact, the death penalty is much more
expensive than life without parole, mostly because of a mandatory double
trial process, lawyers' fees and special housing and security costs. By
eliminating the death penalty, we will save hundreds of millions of tax
dollars. We can use these wasted dollars for our children's schools and
violence prevention programs that truly work.
4) Prop. 34 uses a portion of the budget savings
from replacing the death penalty for crime-solving. This means $100
million will go to the investigation of unsolved rape and murder cases.
The fund is time-limited to three years.