Judge rules against death penalty in California

A federal judge ruled July 16 that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional because the system is so dysfunctional that it is arbitrary and unfair.

The ruling marks the first time a federal court has found California’s death penalty unconstitutional. This decision also comes as “the death penalty is losing favor with the general public and elected officials,” said a statement from Death Penalty Focus, a California-based organization committed to the abolition of the death penalty. 

Defendant Ernest Dewayne Jones, who has been on death row since 19995, argued that because inmates sentenced to death in California sit on death row for decades and are more likely to die of old age than execution, the California death penalty violates the Constitution.  

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, an appointee of President George W. Bush, agreed. “To be executed in such a system, where so many are sentenced to death but only a random few are actually executed, would offend the most fundamental of constitutional protections — that the government shall not be permitted to arbitrarily inflict the ultimate punishment of death,” he said.

Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, called for ending “this charade once and for all.”

“It’s time to replace California’s broken death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole,” he said. “That’s the best way to ensure that convicted killers remain behind bars until they die, without wasting tens of millions of tax dollars every year on needless appeals. That’s justice that works, for everyone.”

Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles County District Attorney, called Judge Carney’s ruling “truly historic. It further proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair; it is exorbitantly costly, unfair, and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The only solution is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

In 2008, the bi-partisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice concluded that California’s death penalty system is dysfunctional and issued a series of comprehensive policy recommendations in order to address the dysfunction.  

 “We provided recommendations to improve the system, including providing funds to hire more attorneys and judges to move cases through the appeals process more quickly,” said John Van de Kamp, former Attorney General of California and chair of the Commission. “The facts are overwhelming and clear: California’s death penalty system is dysfunctional.”

In 2012, 48 percent of California voters voted yes on Prop. 34, which would have replaced the death penalty with life in prison without parole, and would have required inmates to work in prison and pay restitution to victims’ families. The vote on Prop. 34 was closer than the margin on the historic Prop. 8 initiative in 2008, which banned same sex marriages.

The California Catholic Conference supported Prop. 34 and expressed disappointment at its defeat.

“The pain and anguish of all victims of crimes remains of significant concern to the Church and to all good people of California,” said Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, then CCC president, in a statement after the 2012 election. “The California bishops continue to pray for true healing for these victims.

“The penalty of death is not necessary to protect ourselves, punish the offenders or bring legal finality for victims,” he said. “The alternate — the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole — would have respected the dignity of each human life, no matter how flawed.”


Voices

St. Monica students on life in first grade

R.W. Dellinger

Josette White, a blonde, was wearing a navy blue school jacket over a white polo shirt and navy shorts. Next to her, best friend Maria Knierim also had on a school jacket, but with a gray polo and navy pants. Her long pigtails were tied with yellow bands.

The Holy Father visits the Holy Land

Events

May 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

May 23, 2015

  • St. John Eudes Summer Carnival

    St. John Eudes Summer Carnival, 12-10 p.m., St. John Eudes, 9901 Mason Ave., Chatsworth. For more information, contact Mike Hartfield, (323) 259-0587. www.sjecarnival.org.

    Pentecost Vigil, Teachings and Mass, 1:30-5:30 p.m., St. Catherine of Siena Parish Hall, 18115 Sherman Way, Reseda. Featuring Dr. Elizabeth Kim, Dominic Berardino and Father Bill Delaney. Free. (818) 771-1361, spirit@scrc.org.

    Wake Up the World, 6-9:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W Temple St., Los Angeles. An archdiocesan young adult evening prayer vigil with all consecrated people featuring musical celebration, Mass and Holy Hour.

TotTurf Recreational Surfaces

Get our news by email

Office for Vocation
Bob Smith BMW 300x250
Bob Smith Toyota 300x250
Bob Smith Mini 300x250