Coalition wants to change death penalty rules - Brian W. Jones

Coalition wants to change death penalty rules

POWAY — A coalition of local law enforcement members met Thursday to discuss backing changes to California’s death penalty process, from streamlining appeals to finding an acceptable execution...


“The death penalty, I believe, is broken in California. I also believe it can certainly be fixed,” Matt Clay, president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County, told reporters.

Members of unions representing sheriff’s deputies, police officers and prosecutors in the county met in Poway with Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, as well as survivors of murder victims whose killers remain on death row to talk about backing a proposed death penalty initiative.

It is still in the drafting stages and wouldn’t hit the state ballot any sooner than November.

Last year, nearly 53 percent of voters rejected Proposition 34, a measure to abolish the death penalty in the state. Many of those who opposed The measure are behind the new proposal, said Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson. He was not at the meeting, but backs changing the death penalty rules.

Death row inmates in California are far more likely to die of natural causes than execution. Condemned inmates wait years for the state to appoint attorneys to represent them on an automatic appeal.

“Families should not have to wait for decades for justice,” said Phyllis Loya, whose son was a police officer shot to death in 1995 during a foot chase in the Northern California city of Pittsburg, where she also lives.

Loya is a member of Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings, and was in Poway for the meeting.

The last person executed in the state was Clarence Ray Allen, who spent more than 23 years on death row and died by lethal injection in January 2006.

Executions in the state stopped that year, with an appellate court finding that the state had to adopt new protocols for lethal injection.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, three innocent people have been freed from death row in California.

Critics of the death penalty say it is costly and unproven as a deterrent to crime.

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