California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

California: It's Time to End the Death Penalty Nightmare

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris should refuse to defend the state's unconstitutional system for putting people to death.

Jerry Brown, then attorney general, made the right choice in 2010 when he refused to defend Proposition 8 in the appellate courts after Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the anti-gay marriage law was unconstitutional. After all, Brown had opposed Prop 8 and was convinced it was unconstitutional, too. He then continued to refuse to defend the law when he became governor. Likewise, Kamala Harris took a principled stand in 2011 when she declined to defend Prop 8 after she succeeded Brown as attorney general. Those decisions by Brown and Harris took courage; they both endured criticism for refusing to defend a voter-approved law.

It's now time for Brown and Harris to show their courage again — and refuse to defend California's death penalty law in the wake of a recent decision by a federal court judge who said it's unconstitutional, too. After all, both Brown and Harris oppose capital punishment, and Brown publicly disclosed that he had voted for Proposition 34 in 2012, which would have abolished the death penalty in California.

Brown and Harris have not yet said whether they will appeal the decision by US District Judge Cormac J. Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush. They should not. It's long past time for California to do away with its badly broken death penalty system — a system that is extraordinarily expensive, unnecessary, and barbaric.

Source: East Bay Express, Robert Gammon, July 30, 2014

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