Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Death Penalty Debate Rages On...


Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and California’s wrenching death penalty debate

A worker completes installation of the new gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison in 1938. A federal court decision forced California to close the gas chamber in 1996. (Los Angeles Times)

Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and CaliforniaĆ¢€™s wrenching death penalty debate






By MAURA DOLAN
MAR 16, 2019 | 3:00 AM
One of Elisabeth Semel’s earliest memories of the death penalty in California was the 1960 execution of Caryl Chessman. She remembers seeing her father upset.
She became a criminal defense lawyer and went on to defend inmates convicted of capital crimes, running a death penalty clinic at UC Berkeley.
Kent Scheidegger, a former commercial lawyer, was inspired to join the fight for the death penalty after voters ousted California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two colleagues in 1986 for overturning death sentences.
He said the courts were thwarting the people’s will and he joined a pro-death penalty group to persuade judges to uphold death sentences.  
Advocates and others on both sides went on to endure decades of frustration in California’s wrenching wars over the death penalty.
This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom put his own imprint on the saga, declaring a moratorium on executions while he was in office. But the death penalty remains lawful in California, and neither side is ready yet to lay down arms.
The battle started with a 1972 California Supreme Court decision that declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional. The decision spared the lives of Charles MansonSirhan Sirhan and more than 100 others.
Supporters of the death penalty gradually resurrected the law to pass constitutional muster, and California juries have condemned scores of people to die.
Bird and two other Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court were replaced with conservatives, and the newly formed court routinely upheld death sentences.

Stanley Tookie Williams, a former L.A. gang leader convicted of killing four people, was executed despite pleas from activists including actor Mike Farrell. In prison he wrote books urging young people to reject gangs.
Stanley Tookie Williams, a former L.A. gang leader convicted of killing four people, was executed despite pleas from activists including actor Mike Farrell. In prison he wrote books urging young people to reject gangs. (Associated Press)
The state’s execution logjam broke with the 1992 lethal gassing of Robert Alton Harris, who had killed two teenage boys in San Diego. It was the state’s first execution in 25 years.
Another death row inmate, David Mason, was executed in the gas chamber the following year.
Then a federal court decision in 1996 forced the state to close the gas chamber and execute by lethal injection. Later that year, serial killer William Bonin died by the needle, four years after Harris. Executions continued sporadically.
By the time Republican appointee Ronald M. George was California’s chief justice, there was a massive backlog of death penalty appeals. The cost to the state of trying the cases and handling the appeals was crushing.
George, a former prosecutor who had previously defended California’s death penalty, declared the system “dysfunctional.” An inmate on death row was more likely to die from old age than execution, he said.
In all, 13 inmates have been executed in California since the restoration of the death penalty. More than 100 condemned inmates have died of natural causes or suicide during that time.
A state commission determined that the death penalty would work in California only if the state put in a massive infusion of money.
No one seemed inclined to provide that kind of money, but the death penalty remained on the books and death row began running out of room.
Actor Mike Farrell, a death penalty abolitionist, spent many execution nights outside San Quentin State Prison as peaceful protesters held candles and sang hymns.
He met with two California death row inmates before their executions, including Stanley Tookie Williams in 2005.

Actor and anti-death penalty activist Mike Farrell speaking at a 2016 news conference in support of Proposition 62, which would have outlawed capital punishment in California.
Actor and anti-death penalty activist Mike Farrell speaking at a 2016 news conference in support of Proposition 62, which would have outlawed capital punishment in California. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Williams, a former Los Angeles gang leader, was convicted of killing four people. In prison he wrote books for young people urging them to eschew gangs.
Farrell also met with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, another actor, to plead for Williams’ life.
“I just don’t understand the point in killing this man,” Farrell recalled telling Schwarzenegger. “If you commit him to life in prison without parole, he can keep doing the work he is doing with kids.”
Schwarzenegger said Williams had to admit guilt and express remorse, Farrell said. Williams insisted he did not commit the murders and died by lethal injection.
Another inmate was executed before a federal judge in Northern California decided in 2006 that the state’s three-drug method of execution violated the U.S. Constitution. The lethal cocktail exposed inmates to the risk of cruel and unusual suffering, the judge found.
No one has been executed in California since that decision.
“We would have had 20 executions between then and now had it not been for that ruling,” Scheidegger said.
Supporters of capital punishment managed in recent years to defeat two ballot measures to abolish the death penalty and won narrow passage in 2016 of a measure intended to speed up executions.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who personally opposes the death penalty, played no role in the campaigns. His last two terms in office exasperated both supporters and opponents of capital punishment.
Scheidegger said he believed that Brown, who as governor oversaw the department in charge of executions, stymied their resumption by moving extremely slowly to devise an execution protocol. At one point, Scheidegger sued Brown to force action.
Semel called those years a time of “deep disappointment.” Both Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, now a candidate for president, said they personally opposed the death penalty but “didn’t do anything about it,” Semel said.
“Those are the things that stick with me,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference Wednesday announcing a moratorium on California's death penalty.
Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference Wednesday announcing a moratorium on California's death penalty. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
On Monday, Farrell went to Sacramento to meet with Newsom and other opponents of the death penalty.
“This is what I am going to do,” he said Newsom told the group.
Newsom said he would meet with capital punishment supporters to discuss his plans the following day. Farrell told the governor his decision was “true heroism.”
“Most of the governors who do this sort of thing do it at the end of their terms, not at at the beginning,” Farrell said. “He said, ‘No, this is the right time.’ I was blown away.”
News broke late Tuesday that Newsom was using his power of reprieve to place a moratorium on executions.
Scheidegger was livid. He agreed that Newsom had the right to grant reprieves to condemned inmates, but accused him of “flagrantly violating” the law by withdrawing an execution protocol and shutting down the death chamber.
Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, who had campaigned to keep the death penalty and speed it up, said that when she heard the news she thought of a mother whose young son was tortured and sodomized for 10 hours before he was stabbed more than 40 times. His killer was on death row.
She also thought of Marc Klass, who “has waited a quarter of a century” to see the killer of his daughter, Polly, 12, executed. Newsom gave him “less than 24 hours’ notice” of his decision, Schubert said
Farrell watched Newsom’s news conference on television. He said he cried.

15 comments:

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Submitted by Lee.
Thank You Lee.

Full article here:

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-california-death-penalty-history-20190316-story.html

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

If you're viewing this thread on a mobile device (i.e., cell phone), the formatting is all fucked-up.

But hey, it's Saturday, and I've got better things to do, than spend an hour of my day fixing this shit.

When I have nothing better to do, I'll fix it... but for now, find a desktop computer or just deal with it. LOL

Peace...

sunset77 said...

The Manson case I why I've never supported the death penalty. If anyone ever deserved to be executed, it was Charles "Tex" Watson. Multiple stabbing murders, including a pregnant woman. Nevertheless, he's still sitting in prison to this day, fathered 4 children in prison and has his own website, I guess maintained by his family. Some people get executed, while others don't, it's not "fair" or "justice" at all.

Also, innocent people are found in prison fairly often, proven innocent by DNA. While being innocent and sent to prison is bad enough, there is no recourse at all if they are executed.

Dilligaf said...

Sunset, if I may, when California overturned the DP in Anderson (1972), the only legal mechanism in place to address this was to commute all death sentences to Life Wih. There is no doubt that Watson, as well as many others were deserving of the imposition of sentence, but even when Californians voted to create the sentence of the DP a few years later, constitutional protections precluded the re-imposition of the original sentence.

In Re innocent people being innocent, post Furman, there has not been a single case for n which a person was executed and then subsequently been shown legally innocent. The number of appeals, and review of a case, makes it extremely difficult for that to happen. Of course, the flip side is that people who have been released are a reflection of how the system does work. However, please consider that not all sentences hat are overturned are a result of the defendant being innocent. Many times, sentences are overturned turned as a result of procedural errors, meaning that people who were factually guilty got away with it. That is when the “fairness” pendulum swings both ways. Yes, there are times when a person is re-tried, but many times not, as a result of evidentiary issues, witnesses dying, etc. The DP, in my humble opinion, is fair, just, unbiased, and, effective in today’s society. Have a great day!

beauders said...

All a death penalty opponent needs to do is listen to the recordings made by Lawrence Bittaker and his crime partner Ray Norris torturing their teenage victims and they will change their minds and if not imagine it is your daughter doing the screaming and again you will change your mind in at least Bittaker's case. I believe if the Pope heard these tapes he would want Bittaker put to death. Of course we are running out of time with Bittaker he's going to die an old man on Death Row and never receive the execution he deserves.

katie8753 said...

Scott Peterson deserves to be executed. He killed his wife and unborn child just to date some girl that he met.

He could have just divorced her, but that was more trouble than killing her.

beauders said...

Well at least he didn't get away with it and I bet he thought he would.

katie8753 said...

Yeah he definitely thought he would get away with it Beauders. He's a psychopath. Psychopaths don't think normally. They don't think about their actions, they only think about what might be otherwise.

OJ Simpson should have gotten the death penalty, but he didn't even get a guilty verdict. That's another case to argue! We could talk about that for years.

Okay back to the Manson Family. I find it irksome that a jury spent 8 months of their lives determining if the Manson Family was (1) guilty or (2) if they should get the death penalty.

That jury decided to give the death penalty to the Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkle & Horseteeth. As well as Watson in a later trial.

The fact that the state of California overruled that in 1972 was a slap in the face of those juries.

Unfortunately, the families of the victims have had to deal with this every few years to keep them from getting out.

I don't know why California keeps doing this. Does life mean nothing in that state?

Dilligaf said...

Anymore, life means nothing. Does not matter if it is in death as a victim, abortion, or in prison. Since the executive order by the governor, you are already seeing liberals saying that even LWOP is too severe a sentence. What the court gives us, the legislature can take away, regardless of what even the voters approve.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Dill. And then you have sanctuary cities, which protects the criminal illegal aliens. Life without rules is chaos.

beauders said...

Grim I am watching the eight hour documentary on the case of missing child Maddie McCann on Netflix. I am wondering what do you think happened to the child?

grimtraveller said...

beauders said...

I am wondering what do you think happened to the child?

It's impossible to say.
She could have been kidnapped as is supposed. For decades, it was quite normal practice for English couples to leave their young children asleep while they went out to eat while on holiday. There was an implicit assumption that "people" would be keeping their eyes open and any funny stuff that looked to be going on would be challenged.
At the same time, in more recent times, we've had quite a few incidences here where a child has disappeared or been murdered and the parents or grandparents have come out on national news making tearful pleas for the child to be returned and it then transpires that they were in fact responsible for the disappearance or murder. So that has made the McCann case all the harder to guage or have an opinion about.
Having said that, I don't think any of us do have a right to an opinion. None of us were there, none of us know the McCanns and it's a live case unlike, say, the Manson, OJ or JFK case where all the data is in {or at least as far as is known} and has been discussed and debated endlessly and where various opinions can be drawn from the differing elements.

Mario George Nitrini 111 said...

No grimtraveller,
ALL the data relating to
The OJ Simpson Case is NOT in,
&
ALL the data relating to
The Charles Manson Case is NOT in.

The OJ Simpson Case is
STILL AN OPEN CASE,
and there are MANY "questions" surrounding happenings when
The Charles Manson Family were living at SPAHN RANCH.

Mario George Nitrini 111
-------
The OJ Simpson Case

beauders said...

Thanks Grim for the response personally from what I know and assuming the parents are being honest at best she is being raised by someone else and at worst she ended up in the sex trade. If anyone has an interest in this case the documentary on Netflix is very good.

beauders said...

I have an interest in the McCann case because it is similar to a case that happened to a little girl I went to school with. Anna was a kindergartener that lived about a mile from my family when I was in the third grade. One January day in 1973 Anna came home as usual and went out to play after a short time her mother realized she was not making her usual play noise such as talking to their cat. Her mother went to look for her and could not find her. She called the Half Moon Bay, California police and they responded with a questioning and search. There was a creek on the property and the police thought she may have fell in it and drowned. After several divers searched the creek and found nothing, they began to question her natural father, a doctor in San Francisco who was schizophrenic and under the influence of a strange older con man. The mother had left her marriage to the doctor because of this man's influence and had been in a long term relationship with another man who Anna considered her father. Nothing came from the investigation and Anna has never been found. It's been almost 47 years Anna's mother still lives close by in Moss Beach a town a few miles down the coast from Half Moon Bay. She hasn't given up looking for Anna and has wrote a book titled "Searching For Anna." Part of her thinks Anna lives close by and was raised by another family. Hopefully that is what happened but I doubt it. The property that Anna's family lived on was very rural, people didn't go out that far in the country unless they had a reason to be there and strangers were noticed. My parents had guns around our property because it was so rural and it would take the police at least twenty to thirty minutes to get to us. This case is covered on webslueths and has some videos on youtube about her. Her name is Anna Waters for those interested.