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A Card and Short Note Kinda Guy

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed


By: Caitlin Adams

A new relationship is a blank canvas.  What gets painted on the canvas can be a complete surprise. I have been and continue to be completely surprised by the canvas that is my friendship with Rodney. I had no idea that our shared, yet separate journeys in the face of death would bring so much life affirming grace into my life. Thank you, Rodney, Sandra, Julie; all the folks at CEDP: Lily, Randi, Marlene, Mark; and all the other abolitionists and activists I've met along the way for the beauty you each bring to the canvas.


Are lesser evils progress or collateral damage? It may depend where you are standing

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Jerry Elster

If someone were to ask me why Proposition 34 (to end the death penalty in California) didn't pass, my answer would be that 34 was authored to self destruct. It boasters the idea of saving millions of tax dollars over the possibility of executing an innocent person. The passage of 34 would have stripped condemned prisoners of mandatory appeal remedies. These remedies are supposed to act as a check and balance system to assure that the state does not execute an innocent person. Whether it is death by execution or the slow, silent, and hopeless death through Life Without The Possibility to Parole (LWOP), it's still death. I would have voted for 34 as a lesser of two evils; reasoning that an innocent person would have the opportunity to fight for his/her freedom.


Dead Man Walking

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed


By: Caitlin Adams

I visited Rodney yesterday with his mom, Sandra.  We arrived in the visiting area at 11:30. At 11:45, the visit room C.O. came over to us. She began explaining the "Dead Man Walking" protocol there at the Polunsky Unit. There was an execution - a state sanctioned murder - scheduled for that day. She informed us that once the process of escorting the condemned prisoner is initiated all traffic in the facility stops, everyone stays where they are until notified by the Warden that the prisoner has been escorted out of the building.  The process had begun for Preston Hughes, the 15th human being to be murdered by Governor Rick Perry and the state of Texas this year. The 253rd of Perry's tenure as governor. She informed us that it would be some time before Rodney would be brought out for our visit.


Why did death penalty repeal fail in California?

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Lily Hughes

Proposition 34 (or the SAFE Act), the ballot measure that would have replaced the death penalty in California with life without parole (LWOP), was narrowly defeated there on November 6, 2012.  A de facto moratorium remains in place as the courts in California continue to wrestle over the state's execution protocol.

53% of people voted against the measure, with 47% voting in favor.  This is a far cry from the 70% of people that were in favor of reinstating the death penalty in California in 1978.  The significant shift in public opinion against the death penalty is incredibly encouraging for abolitionists both nationally and in California.


Death Penalty Survives In California, But Three-Strikes Law Cut Back

Examining the California SAFE Act


Credit: Eric Risberg / AP Photo
The new lethal-injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif., on Sept. 21, 2010. Fifty-three percent of California voters rejected Proposition 34 on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, choosing to retain the death penalty instead of replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By: David R. Dow

Why did the state’s voters choose to soften a notoriously harsh punishment while upholding an even harsher one? It’s the difference between economics and morals, writes David Dow.

When 53 percent of California voters rejected Proposition 34 on Election Day, they were choosing to retain the death penalty instead of replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The same day, a larger percentage of the California electorate voted to radically reduce the number of felons serving life sentences under the state’s so-called “three-strikes” law. In both cases, the punishment costs the state dearly—either because of years of fighting an inmate’s appeals or years of housing and feeding him. How could the same voters care so much about saving money in one context but be so indifferent to the squandering of it in another?


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