Skip to comments.Get Rid of the Death Penalty, Get Rid of Plea Bargains
Posted on 09/23/2012 3:51:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
Recently, editorial page editor John Diaz asked Mark Klaas whether he expects to feel closure if California executes Richard Allen Davis, the man who kidnapped, toyed with and then killed Klaas' 12-year-old daughter, Polly, in 1993. A jury found Davis guilty and sentenced him to death in 1996.
From the early days after Davis snatched Polly from a Petaluma slumber party, Klaas has been a highly visible advocate for strong laws to protect the public, especially children, from career criminals and predators like Davis. He had come to the San Francisco Chronicle with other opponents of Proposition 34, the ballot measure that would end California's death penalty and resentence California's 700-plus death row inmates to life without parole.
Klaas' answer may surprise you. He sadly shook his head and answered, "Is it going to bring any closure to me? No." But, Klaas added, Davis "will no longer be able to run his website." Young girls no longer will write to him. It turns out the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty hosts a Richard Allen Davis home page, on which the convicted killer displays "hand-painted wood hobby craft items," which he made, and posts photos of himself. Davis also wonders whether there's anyone out there who wants to know who he really is, and he asks, "For someone like myself, can one ever fall back in love with life again?"
Davis invites interested parties to write to him at San Quentin.
Klaas wants to see Davis executed, he told me later, because the man who killed his daughter should have no influence in this world. That, he emphasized, is "what's supposed to stop."
Good luck with that. Thanks to a highly successful defense lobby and federal judges who have stalled the enforcement of California law, only 13 of the state's death row inmates have been executed since 1992. So now the folks behind Proposition 34 argue that California's death penalty is "too costly" and "broken beyond repair." End the death penalty, they say, and Californians will save money on sentencing trials, costly appeals and "special death row housing."
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that the savings could amount to $100 million annually in the first few years.
There's a caveat with that number. The Legislative Analyst's Office also noted that it cannot compute the financial effect that might follow if murderers stopped pleading guilty and making plea bargains that enable them to avoid death row.
As Klaas sees it, the anti-death penalty lobby is asking Californians to disarm themselves unilaterally. He cited cases like that of John Gardner. After the convicted sex offender was arrested for the murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King in 2010, Gardner went for a deal. He admitted to killing King and also to the 2009 murder and attempted rape of 14-year-old Amber Dubois. Gardner even led authorities to Amber's bones. Parents Brent and Kelly King agreed to the plea bargain because, they said in a statement covered by CBS News, their family had been through "unthinkable hell" for 14 months. "We couldn't imagine the confession to Amber's murder never seeing the light of day, leaving an eternal question mark," they said.
"You take the death penalty off the table," Klaas told the Chronicle, and communities will be held hostage to the fear and uncertainty that follow when a young person goes missing. "Crimes will not be solved. Victims will not be recovered."
Without the death penalty, it is doubtful that Jared Lee Loughner would have pleaded guilty to a 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., during which he killed six and wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Given his history of mental illness, it's not clear whether Loughner would have been found guilty.
Even when it doesn't work, the death penalty works.
California prosecutors and California juries do not reach the death penalty lightly. Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert estimates that death row inmates represent less than 2 percent of those convicted for murder.
At least with the death penalty on the books, there's a good chance that some of the worst offenders will agree to a sentence of life without parole in order to avoid lethal injection.
In such cases, there is quick resolution and certainty of outcome, and victims' families need not worry about an offender's getting off, because the defendant has no grounds for appeals. All of the outcomes that the anti-death penalty lobby extols -- cheaper, faster and more certain -- exist only because of the death penalty.
Why would Californians want to get rid of it?
The idea that Manson comes up for parole....absolutely stinks. Shouldn't happen....ever.
“Young girls no longer will write to him”
WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
I strongly object to this wording.
It trivializes whatever torments he inflicted on this little girl. While her body was too decomposed to determine whether she was raped, strong evidence at the scene indicates she was.
Serial killers almost always have fan clubs, most of them females.
Ted Bundy had groupies who came to his trials, young girls who intentionally dressed and did their hair to look like the girls he had killed already.
I can only assume it’s an extreme example of the “attraction to bad boys syndrome.”
The death penalty should be enforced within 48 hours of the judgement. Any appeals must be filed and heard within that time frame. Spurious appeals should result in fines or incarceration for the defense team.
The death penalty should not be subject to plea bargaining
The death penalty works...its just you have pro-Criminal groups clogging the system with repeated appeals and clemency requests
Now, you have so-called conservatives against the death penalty
With a fully-functioning death penalty....you will reduce the number of violent crimes. And, a quick execution works a lot better than a 30 yr wait (which you see in some cases)
I also would like to see less plea bargains. The system only benefits real criminals, and ends up busting a few who really didnt commit a crime, but are threatened into confessing into one
Yes, there are wrongful convictions and prosecutions...but we need to change the system...not the punishment. Remove prosecutorial and judicial immunity, and there will be less nonsense
Sorry, but I saw Klaas on a TV show and something about that man doesn’t smell right to me. Isn’t he a “step” father?
The fact is that sometimes, the system is abused by people. Sometimes, witnesses are wrong. Sometimes, police do tamper with evidence. Sometimes, victims who cannot name the actual attacker will simply blame someone they don't like. Your methods would guarantee that innocent people get killed.
Further, 48 hours isn't enough time for most attorney to file a single motion, let alone investigate an entire situation, and every possible connection that may indicate the innocence of their client.
I understand that you're just lashing out emotionally, and strutting like a peacock to show how much you hate evil criminals. We get that. However, our Founders made our system of laws to be intentionally slow and deliberate, especially in the most important cases. They openly preferred that 10 guilty men go free than to have one innocent be punished by their own government. It isn't easy, but it is better than the alternatives.
“So now the folks behind Proposition 34 argue that California’s death penalty is “too costly” and “broken beyond repair.” End the death penalty, they say, and Californians will save money on sentencing trials, costly appeals and “special death row housing.”
Come now, just skip all the liberal formalities. Then this could all be streamlined with a good pistol and a big furnace - and all this waste of human flesh could be disposed of in a month or less.
“A jury found Davis guilty and sentenced him to death in 1996.”
The real problem is that this man should have been executed in 1996. Thanks to legions of lawyers (who make good money off the government defending that which, in a moral and sane world, would be indefensible) and bleeding heart commies (who are either intentionally screwing up the courts to ensure the collapse of the US or are too stupid to understand that there are only two ways to deal with two legged predators- lock them up or kill them) what should be a simple process fails to do its job.
This trial resulted in one of the most horrific legal abuses I have ever seen.
The evidence was damning, the criminal was clearly guilty, and as the jury was departing to reach their decision, the defendant flipped them off.
They quickly found him guilty. No problem as far as that goes. Then a juror shot his mouth off, ruining the whole trial.
“I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he flipped us off, then I knew he was guilty.”
An no, the judge neither granted a mistrial, nor did he punish the juror.
Here’s a better idea. That the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees reform the federal bench (they can do this), in several ways.
1) Limit death penalty appeals to major constitutional questions about the trial. No unrelated arguments. All appeals from a given defendant must be consolidated, and unless there is misconduct on the part of the judge, police, prosecutor, defense attorney or jury, cases are to be returned to the lower court for reconsideration, instead of overturning them outright.
2) All appeals move to the head of the federal court docket, and each side, and the court, may use a single, 30 day trial delay. Execution stays are limited to 5 business days.
3) States are considered competent to carry out an execution by whatever means and mode they deem appropriate.
4) Federal death penalty cases are just a mess and need a complete rewrite.
In Colonial times, if you were convicted of murder, you were usually hanged within a few days or weeks after sentencing (including appeals). Then the lawyers and other bleeding hearts got involved and came up this the hideous system we have in current days. Justice postponed is justice denied.
I fully agree with you.
There is a very odd mental reaction most people have. They take the emotion they feel about the horror of the crime and their desire to take vengeance on whoever did it, especially crimes against children, and somehow morph that into evidence that the accused is guilty.
However, that a crime is horrifying just does not constitute evidence the accused is the person who did it.
A perfect example is the multiple miscarriages of justice involving day care and child molestation back in the 80s. People were picketing the trials with signs saying, "Believe the children."
Why should we, if what they are saying is not really believable?