Voices from California's Death Row

Cristhian A. Monterroso

Thank you for taking the time to write the ones who are actually affected by the rhetoric politicians try to build their careers on.

My position on the bills being proposed for November’s ballots are:

1)      The bill to speed up the death penalty is political garbage. Simply put, it is another massive waste of taxpayer money. Apparently, the voters have forgotten that thing called “fast Track” that was voted on in the late 90’s. If all the judges have already made a public admission that the death penalty is an irreparable system in California, fast track failed and there being no pharmaceutical companies to sell the drugs to the State, why is this bill being pushed?

This bill also cuts funding to defense attorneys. It tries to impose forced labor on attorneys by offering them death penalty cases and if they don’t take the cases assigned to them, they are put on a list of persons who may not fight appeals any longer. That will push attorneys even further away. So with no funding, forced labor and no attorneys, how will the death penalty be sped up? Truth is, it is not. It will slow it down even more. 

2)      The bills that vacate the death penalty – one is for simply getting rid of it for good. The other says they want to make it mandatory for death row prisoners to work and pay for the Victims Restitutions Fees. That is already in place. Absolutely all prisoners who have restitution are mandated to pay a 45% fee for restitution and the state puts an additional 10% fee for having the charge the prisoners. S currently they pay 55% out of every dollar. Only death row is not allowed to work, but all other prisoners have to work. If the death penalty is vacated, all prisoners affected will have to adjust and work automatically. Forcing a 60% fee is not good – the State will want another 10% making it 70%, that will not only be taken out of any wages earned, it will also take funds from civilians, citizens who have done no wrong. Why is that acceptable in politician’s minds?

It would be best if there was only one bill – to abolish the death penalty with the amount of money being wasted on broken irreparable system as the main point and a secondary point that there is no drugs to carryout executions with no attorneys to take cases and a dilapidated old prison that is a black hole for taxpayer money that is already overcrowded with death row prisoners. It would be a lot wiser and humane, to vacate the death penalty and re-route all those excess funds toward the education system that so desperately needs financial help. Schools are understaffed, buildings falling apart and textbooks antiquated. That is where the billions of dollars wasted on San Quentin and the failed death penalty system needs to go.

From Cristhian A. Monterroso