national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Guest Contributor
Senator Chuck Poochigian

Moratorium Only Delays Justice
Death penalty moratorium would be unconstitutional...
[Chuck Poochigian] 1/19/06

California's death penalty has been in the national spotlight recently because of the high-profile execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Opponents of capital punishment have seized the opportunity in an attempt to circumvent the will of the people and undermine California's death-penalty law.

They are armed only with unsubstantiated arguments that justice is being administered unfairly.

In their zeal to win over public opinion, some on the far left have chosen to make heroes of death-row inmates or urged that their sentences be commuted for reasons that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence. Williams' supporters claimed that the quadruple killer and founder of a notorious criminal gang had undergone a death-row conversion. This in spite of the fact that he never admitted to the killings or expressed any remorse.

Death-penalty opponents also advocated futilely for clemency for Clarence Ray Allen, executed Tuesday for arranging for three murders while he was already in prison. After 20-plus years of appeals, Allen's lawyers argued that he was too old and frail to be killed. Allen had far outlived the collective years of his three victims and many of their grieving family members. His was a textbook case for the axiom that justice delayed is justice denied.

Tactics like these are routinely employed by those staunchly opposed to capital punishment, no matter the crime or the circumstances. They demonstrate an utter disregard for the horrendous pain that killers impose on victims and their loved ones.

Death-penalty opponents in the Legislature are currently pushing a bill that would halt justice for murder victims by imposing a three-year moratorium on capital punishment. The moratorium is designed to permit an unelected, unaccountable, and politically motivated commission to undermine California's death-penalty law.

Many of the same legislators who supported creation of this commission through a Senate resolution now argue that a simple party-line majority vote is enough to enact a death-penalty moratorium – virtually overriding multiple elections and millions of votes that have reaffirmed Californians' support for capital punishment. Their proposal flies directly in the face of the state constitution, which expressly provides that a voter-passed initiative can only be amended or repealed by a voter-approved process.

These death-penalty critics are dismissive not only of our capital-punishment laws and process, but of the facts. Incredibly, the bill's author has been reported to assert that "there are people who are pure as the driven snow" on death row.

Opponents often suggest that California does not have enough safeguards in place to prevent wrongful executions. This could not be further from the truth. Capital punishment is reserved for only the most heinous acts of murder. Only about 1 percent of California's 2,500 annual murders result in a death sentence. Every one of those convictions is then directly reviewed by the California Supreme Court. The expansive use of DNA evidence is one of many safeguards that helps to assure that an innocent person is not put to death.

The checks and balances in our criminal justice system work. There is no proof of any wrongful execution in California in the years since the death penalty's reinstatement. Yet, there are mountains of evidence that prove that California's death penalty and administration of justice is fair.

Since Californians voted overwhelmingly to reinstate the death penalty in 1978, this state has executed only 12 inmates. Inmates routinely sit on death row for over 20 years – filing numerous appeals and motions in state and federal courts. In recent decades, more than twice as many condemned inmates have died of old age than have been executed.

Polls have consistently shown that Californians support the death penalty by a two-to-one margin. Efforts to impose a death-penalty moratorium in the Legislature defy the Constitution and the will of the people in an attempt to accomplish by fiat what could never be achieved at the ballot box. These assaults on our criminal justice system by those who would do away with capital punishment altogether are an insult to victims and their families. CRO

Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, is vice-chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.





Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005