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Stupid Californians Back The Death Penalty

You know it had to just "kill" the reporters at Saudi-owned Reuters to admit this:

The East Block of San Quentin Prison, referred to as Death Row.

Liberal California backs death penalty

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Californians overwhelmingly back the death penalty, according to a poll released on Friday, the latest indication most Americans continue to back a punishment rare in the rest of the world.

California has often foreshadowed changes in American public policy, but the most populous state appears to share the opinion of the rest of the country on the issue, even though it rarely metes out the punishment.

A Field Poll of 500 Californian adults found 63 percent favored the death penalty with 32 percent opposed. Among registered voters, the number rose to 67 percent, 1 percent lower than in a 2004 poll. The poll, carried out Feb 12-26, had 4.5 percent margin of error.

"In the overall view there has not been much change in the last 45 years," said Mervin Field, who has polled Californians on the issue for half a century.

An October Gallup Poll found 64 percent of Americans in favor of the death penalty.

The latest survey follows the December execution or Crips gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams, as well the 1,000th execution nationwide that month since America resumed capital punishment in 1977.

Arguments that Williams redeemed himself by writing anti-gang books and that a California inmate executed in January was too old and infirm to die at age 76 failed to sway the courts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declined clemency requests.

Most executions have been in Texas, which has put to death 359 inmates since resuming the punishment in 1982. But capital punishment remains rare in California, with 14 men executed since 1992 and 645 now slated to die.

Some death penalty abolitionists see hope in legal arguments that lethal injection is unconstitutional because it is cruel and unusual punishment. That argument helped win a last-minute reprieve last month for Californian murderer Michael Morales, whose case will be reexamined in May.

In a legal filing in the case on Friday, California’s Deputy Attorney General Dane Gillette said the state would alter its execution procedure to allow a continuous flow of an anesthetic as two lethal chemicals are applied.

"We’re confident that when we’ve had a chance to demonstrate the procedures and how they work that it will be clear that it is a constitutionally permissible form of execution," Gillette told Reuters.


Opposition to the death penalty in California, as noisy as it is outside the gates of San Quentin prison on execution days, has not gained much political traction in a state where Democrats are the dominant party.

By contrast, Illinois halted executions six years ago and New Jersey this year implemented a one-year moratorium.

A California moratorium proposal has stalled and the two leading Democratic candidates for governor this year both favor the punishment, as does Republican Schwarzenegger.

Barbara Becnel, who helped win international attention by promoting the story of Stanley Williams, said the public would turn against the punishment if they knew more.

"One of my concerns about people’s opinion of the death penalty is that they have a false impression of what is really going on when a person is executed," said Becnel, who recently filed papers to run for governor this year. "I witnessed Stanley Tookie Williams’ execution and it was the most barbaric and horrific experience of my life."

The general public is not permitted to see executions, which typically take place shortly after midnight, although a small group of journalists chronicle the punishment.

But I think in our hard won republican form of government we should just let a bunch of anesthesiologists and the girlfriend of a serial killer decide whether we should allow capital punishment or not.

I wonder if Tookie’s girlfriend (and the next governor of California) ever saw the photos of his crime scenes.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, March 4th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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