Voices from California's Death Row

Donald Ray Young

Yes, I would like to see “The Justice that Works Act” passed this 08 November 2016. Many of us are actually innocent, wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. Victims of a dysfunctional system. We can’t get the years back. Leave us a semblance of life. As an abolitionist I stand against government sponsored executions, strapped in a death chamber or in our streets at the hands of corrupt police. If ‘all lives matter’ let us abolish capital punishment in California. I also believe other states will follow our lead. This momentous initiative has global ramifications. The appeals process will still be an option to challenge wrongful convictions. This is a step in the right direction.

Replacing the death penalty with Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) takes state sponsored lynching off the table. This ballot initiative will preserve human life. Death is final. With life all things are possible. California has the largest death-row population in the nation, hovering at 750 people. Not much of a life versus no life at all – choose life every time. Once we stop barbaric executions, we can join the struggle to abolish LWOP, sometimes referred to as ‘the other death penalty’.

A special provision requiring LWOP prisoners to work is redundant. According to California Code of Regulations, Section 3040: Every able-bodied person committed to the custody of the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is obligated to work. In truth prisons don’t have enough jobs or educational programs to go around, much like society. There is a long waiting list for prison jobs, and even educational programs when they exist.

Mandating LWOP prisoners pay 60% of their wages toward restitution is punitive in nature. When friends or family send financial support out of love and necessity, the state will take 60% of that too.

Included on the ballot will be, “The Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act.” This initiative will gut constitutional safeguards while rushing through state sponsored torturous executions. In this election you will be literally voting for life, “The Justice that Works Act” or death, “the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act.” One of these initiatives will surely pass. If both pass, the one with the most votes will become law. We need every vote, your vote counts. Inspire someone to register and vote who otherwise wouldn’t. Vote for those of us without a voice.

From Donald Ray Young