Editorial: Repeal California death penalty, but not Newsom’s way


Repealing California’s death penalty is the right thing to do — but not the way Gov. Gavin Newsom is trying to do it.

His order suspending imposition of the ultimate punishment was a hypocritical flaunting of the will of the voters, whose decision the governor had previously promised to respect.

Newsom is right that the death penalty is inequitably imposed on people of color and people with mental disabilities. He’s right that innocent people have been sentenced to death, including five in California who have been exonerated since 1978. And, yes, the death penalty is costly and ineffective at deterring crime.

Those are all reasons why California should abolish the death penalty — and why we have consistently supported efforts to do so. But that position has not prevailed. State voters have repeatedly reaffirmed their desire to put the state’s most serious offenders to death. Most recently, in 2016, 53 percent rejected a ballot measure to stop executions.

During the gubernatorial campaign last year Newsom promised to respect that. “It would be an affront for a governor to say, ‘here’s what I’m going to do by fiat,’” Newsom told this new organization in an editorial board meeting.

But that’s exactly what he did Wednesday.

The sad part is that Newsom didn’t have to do it this way. He could have achieved essentially the same goal without thumbing his nose at voters.

Rather than issuing temporary reprieves to all 737 inmates on death row, repealing the state’s lethal injection protocol and shutting down the death chamber at San Quentin, the governor could have, and should have, first gone back to voters.

It might not be as quick. And it might not be as immediately satisfying for death penalty opponents. But the outcome is more likely to be accepted and respected by all sides, which is important for final resolution.

It seems likely now that voters will have another chance to weigh in. Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, introduced a state constitutional amendment Wednesday to repeal the death penalty, which requires two-thirds approval of the Legislature to place on the 2020 statewide ballot.

That’s the place where Newsom should make his case. With the power of the governor’s bully pulpit, he should be able to carry the day. His arguments for repealing the death penalty are strong and persuasive.

It’s unfortunate that he has instead made the issue about him, and whether he can be trusted. His rationalization that voters knew what they were getting when they elected him is disingenuous.

Yes, they knew that he personally opposed the death penalty. They knew, as he told us during the campaign, that he wanted to lead a conversation on repealing it and put the issue back on the ballot. But he also said he would respect the voters on this issue.

While campaigning for repeal of the death penalty in 2016, he told the Modesto Bee, “If ever I was in a position to actually be …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *