Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fire My Wife!

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

As you and your colleagues in Sacramento set about trying to address California's mammoth budget deficit, there is one state institution that deserves to head up the list for elimination. It is our decrepit and dysfunctional death penalty. With over six hundred prisoners under sentence of death, California is spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to litigate their cases in court. The beneficiaries of this spending include my family, since my wife is an attorney who represents death row inmates.

By commuting the sentences of all California death row inmates to life in prison, you would immediately and without help from those "girly men" in the legislature, eliminate or greatly reduce the expensive litigation in these cases and close whole offices like my wife's which exist only to represent those on death row. Those prisoners could be moved to high security prisons all over the state and San Quentin could be prepared for sale and or remodeling as a smaller re-entry facility.

Yes I am opposed to the death penalty, but that is not the point. Even the most vigorous death penalty supporter can find nothing to love in our pathetic death penalty. We have spent billions to execute about a dozen inmates over 35 years. Taking 20 to 25 years to execute someone eliminates any deterrent value, and sense of closure for the victims, and life in prison provides completely adequate incapacitation. In other words, we are spending billions just to say we have a death penalty, when we actually don't.

Before you cut funding from our kids' public schools, before you take county money needed to pay for cops and probation officers (read about the latest prospects in the SFChron) let's axe this useless institution.


Jonathan Simon

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