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Quotes from the California death penalty repeal effort

The Death Penalty Information Center's logoFrom the Death Penalty Information Center‘s weekly email:

On November 6, a California ballot measure to repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole was narrowly defeated. Many of those involved in law enforcement supported the repeal.

“Given my experience, I believe there are three compelling reasons why the death penalty should be replaced. (1) The criminal justice system makes mistakes and the possibility of executing innocent people is both inherently wrong and morally reprehensible; (2) My personal experience and crime data show the death penalty does not reduce crime; and (3) The death penalty wastes precious resources that could be best used to fight crime and solve thousands of unsolved homicides languishing in filing cabinets in understaffed police departments across the state.”

-George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney and former police chief


“[T]here’s no chance California’s death penalty can ever be fixed. The millions wasted on this broken system would be much better spent keeping teachers, police and firefighters on their jobs.”

-Carlos Moreno, former California Supreme Court Justice


“Had I known then what we do today, I would have pushed for strong life sentences without the possibility of parole. I still believe that society must be protected from the most heinous criminals, and that they don’t deserve to ever again be free. But I’d like to see them serve their terms with the general prison population, where they could be required to work and pay restitution into the victims’ compensation fund.”

-Ron Briggs, sponsor of the initiative which expanded California’s death penalty law in 1978


“The death penalty serves no one. It doesn’t serve the victims. It doesn’t serve prevention. It’s truly all about retribution….There comes a time when you have to ask if a penalty that is so permanent can be available in such an imperfect system. The only guarantee against executing the innocent is to do away with the death penalty.”

-Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin prison


“I now understand that the death penalty is an ineffective, cruel and simplistic response to the complex problem of violent crime. Our limited resources could be better spent on programs that focus on stopping violence before it starts, such as preventing child abuse and drug addiction – programs that will prevent another child from becoming the next [murderer].”

-Darryl Stallworth, former Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County


“I was a supporter and believer in the death penalty, but I’ve begun to see that this system doesn’t work and it isn’t functional. It costs an obscene amount of money.”

-Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles District Attorney

Photo: Death Penalty Information Center

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