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Saunders on Prop 34

SF Chrontrarian Debra Saunders has this column on the death penalty repeal initiative, largely an interview with Mark Klaas.  She notes the plea bargain effect that we have mentioned here before.

Regarding Richard Allen Davis, on death row for murdering Polly Klaas, here is an update on his status.  His death sentence was affirmed on direct appeal in 2009.  His state habeas petition has been briefed and is awaiting decision.  That decision will be followed by federal habeas, but with the decision in Walker v. Martin and Cullen v. Pinholster, the federal courts will not need to review nearly as much as they used to in capital cases.  Justice is entirely achievable in this case, assuming California's voters do the right thing in November.


The latest Pepperdine Poll has Prop 34 essentially tied: 45.5 in favor, 46.7 against Almost 5 point swing in 2 weeks. Good bye California Death Penalty.


The latest BR/Pepperdine poll is September 13, and it was reported here the day it was announced. The poll skauffman refers to was the first in the series, two months ago.

This is a biweekly poll. The next installment is due this coming Thursday.

The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false. Proposition 34 is being funded primarily by a wealthy company out of Chicago and the ACLU. It includes provisions that would make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials. It significantly increases the costs to taxpayers due to life-time medical costs, the increased security required to coerce former death-row inmates to work, the money to pay those inmates to work, etc. The amount “saved” in order to help fund law enforcement is negligible and only for three years. (The money is taken from the general fund irregardless of whether Prop 34 actually saves any money.) Prop. 34 also takes away funds inmates could use to actually fight for their innocence, increasing the risk that innocent people will spend the rest of their lives in jail. The dollars Prop. 34 takes away ensure both that innocent people are not executed or spend the rest of their lives in jail. Get the facts and supporting evidence at http://cadeathpenalty.webs.com, http://waiting4justice.org/, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb7HMOfxxLE.

The 729 convicted murderers on death row were convicted of brutally killing at least 1,279 people. At least 230 of them were children. 75 more were young adults between the ages of 18-20. Another 82 victims were older than 65.

Of these victims, at least 211 of them were raped and 319 of them robbed. Sixty-six victims were killed in execution style, usually bound and shot in the back of the head. Forty-seven victims were tortured.

Forty-three of these victims were law enforcement agents and another seven were security guards. Not included in these numbers are cases where the killer attempted to kill a police officer, but was unsuccessful, as in the case of Oswaldo Amezcua who shot three police officers.

An important consideration in changing a killer’s sentence to life is whether he has murdered other inmates while incarcerated. Eleven death sentences were handed down after an already-incarcerated inmate murdered another inmate. Troy Ashmus had previously killed an inmate and viciously attacked a deputy while incarcerated for another crime. Joseph Barrett killed an inmate while incarcerated for having killed a teacher. Kenneth Bivert killed an inmate while already incarcerated on three counts of murder. John Capistrano had a previous conviction for killing an inmate and attacked another inmate in a holding cell. Joseph Danks was already incarcerated for six murders when he killed the inmate which led to his death sentence. Martin Drews was also serving time for murder when he killed an inmate. Similarly, Lee Capers brought a knife to court to stab one of the witnesses testifying against him.

While the murders for which these killers were sentenced to death are horrendous, the murder victims are only a part of the trail of violence left by these killers. Many had killed others before finally being sentenced to death for their most recent killing. Others are suspected to have killed dozens more. For example, Randy Kraft is believed to have killed at least 65 other people. Another serial killer Glen Rogers was convicted of killing three other people in three other states and confessed to his sister he was responsible for more than 70 killings. Lawrence Bittaker is suspected to have raped and murdered another 30-40 victims in addition to the five for which he was sentenced to death. Charles Ng, while convicted for murdering eleven people, is suspected to have killed up to 25 people. Wesley Shermantine is believed to have killed 25 people even though only convicted for four. This year he has began leading law enforcement to more bodies. More than twenty additional murders have been attributed to Cleamon Johnson. Police suspect William Suff murdered twenty woman in addition to the twelve for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. Michael Allen is believed to have killed 12-20 more people in addition to the two he was sentenced to die for. Franklin Lynch was linked to more than thirteen additional murders. David Carpenter was believed to have killed another 7-11 victims. Anh Duong was suspected of having committed 7 murders and 15 armed robberies. Kevin Haley was suspected in seven other homicides. Dennis Webb admitted to five additional murders. Steven Homick has also been sentenced to death in Nevada for 3 murders. Malcolm Robbins admitted to or was convicted of killing four additional minors. Thus, these individuals alone are responsible for approximately another 300 murders.

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