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.
The death penalty is expensive, provides no deterrent effect, and represents pure retribution -- a visceral bloodlust that invokes a violent American past. But most of all, the death penalty -- as practiced in California and throughout the U.S. -- is irretrievably broken.
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.