By O.C. Supervisor Todd Spitzer
Under our current broken system, it takes more than 20 years from conviction to execution. Inmates on death row are far more likely to die of natural causes than by execution. Since our death penalty was reinstated in 1978 more than 900 murderers have been sentenced to death in California. These are not merely murders. These are the worst of the worst. Killings where the victim was tortured first: 126, child victims: 173, and murders of police officers: 44. Only 13 have been executed and none in over ten years, since 2006. With only 747 currently on death row, that means about 200 have died while awaiting their execution. I was a witness in the last execution at San Quintin, California in 2008. I went as a witness to personally experience a lawfully ordered termination of life.
We must speed up the process while ensuring all constitutional safe guards but nothing more. Prop 66 is good for everyone involved. Prop 66 aids inmates by appointing appellate council immediately upon conviction, so that appeals can begin when the facts supporting both guilt and the death penalty are fresh and witnesses are still alive and available. Prop 66 is projected to create state prison savings that could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually for our broken state treasury according to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Because Prop 66 requires appeals to be heard within 5 years of conviction, Prop 66 will allow courts, who may have to conduct a retrial, to have more confidence in the evidence they receive.
Prop 66 will give the victims’ families and friends a finality that is grossly lacking today. Of the 747 inmates currently sitting on California’s death row, 63 are from Orange County. Five of those murderers from Orange County are in their 70’s and have averaged over 32 years since the commission of their murders and today’s date. Randy Kraft is 71. It has been almost 44 years since he committed his murder on December 1, 1972. He was sentenced to death on November 29, 1989.
Recently, (March 20, 2015), the Huffington Post reported on the disappointment victims’ families expressed when our current Orange County death penalty case got derailed again because of prosecutorial misconduct. Huffington reported “Family members of Dekraai’s victims were distraught and voiced frustration in court over the decision to appeal and the possibility that a conclusion to the case, which has already taken three and a half years, could be delayed even more.” Victim’s family member Paul Wilson was quoted as railing at District Attorney Tony Rackauckas “Tony, you have let me down … we shouldn’t be here. This should have been very easy.” Dekraai already plead guilty to the murder of eight people, yet we can’t even get to the penalty phase trial until the appellate courts rule on the validity of the Court’s recusal of the DA’s office. This case could easily keep victim’s families waiting even longer that the Kraft victims’ families. Victims’ families deserve better.
Folks, get behind these brash, incomplete, deceptive slogans and learn the truth before you vote. Victims and our State need Prop 66.