In 1999, a French journalist made a bold prediction to me. "Your country will abolish capital punishment in the next 25 years." I thought of our conversation on Friday when I learned that Maryland will ban capital punishment.
Prop 34 moved the conversation light years ahead in this state, and it lost by a narrow margin. When we finally abolish the death penalty, in California, and in every state, we will look back at this defeat as a bump in the long road.
I was locked up more than 20 years ago for a murder I did not commit and last year, I was finally able to prove my innocence and was released. Replacing the death penalty is the only way we can guarantee that we will never make a fatal mistake in California.
Over my 30-year career in the California Department of Corrections, I rose through the ranks from a corrections officer working in prisons to the warden of death row. I know firsthand that the death penalty wastes money and does not make us any safer.
When I was just 16 years old, I was stripped of my freedom, wrongfully convicted of a murder I did not commit. I spent twenty years behind bars before I was finally able to prove my innocence. If I had been sentenced to death, would I have been able to prove my innocence in time?
The vote on November 6 is not just a referendum on whether the one billion dollar governmental program that is the death penalty in California is worth it. It is a referendum on whether we will put an end to a system broken beyond repair.
District Attorneys have a great deal of power and responsibility -- and so do we. We must make the DAs stop and listen so they can accurately speak for ALL the people instead of catering to special interests.
Faced with unassailable evidence that the death penalty in California costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year, supporters tend to respond with what is intended to be a conversation stopper: "You can't put a price tag on justice."