Supporters of Proposition 34, which would abolish the death penalty in California, maintain that the state's system of capital punishment is too flawed and expensive to continue. We agree that the death penalty is flawed and the almost unlimited appeals make it very expensive.
But instead of throwing out the death penalty, let's fix the problems in how it is administered. We oppose Prop. 34 on the Nov. 6 ballot, and believe that the appeals process doesn't have to be long and burdensome to ensure that an innocent person isn't executed.
Make no mistake. We believe those sentenced to death must have every opportunity to appeal their cases, and the state is obligated to ensure that justice is being served by carrying out the death sentence. But this can be done in a few years. Justice is not served by delaying the death penalty by two decades or more.
It is unfair to the families of victims to have an appeals process that often is aimed at delaying the death penalty rather than seeing that justice is served.
In the notorious case of Clarence Ray Allen, those of us in Fresno know that imprisonment does not always make society safe. From his prison cell, he ordered that witnesses who had testified against him in a burglary case be killed. In 1980, an accomplice released from prison executed Bryon Schletewitz, 27, Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18, at Fran's Market in Fresno.
Allen was not executed until 2006, more than 26 years after the murders that he ordered from his prison cell. That delay had nothing to do with whether Allen was being put to death for crimes that he did not commit.
The problems in administering California's death penalty must be resolved. But Prop. 34 is not the way to do it.