Editor’s Note: The Presidential election isn’t the only political battle going down on November 6th. In California a number of propositions that can change the lives of many are going to be on the ballot. One of those is Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.
Deldelp Medina is the Northern California Coordinator for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. While she is sharing her personal story she also represent 720 families who are crime victims who do not believe that the death penalty brings them any justice or closure.
Yes on 34 by Deldelp Medina
I want to thank VivirLatino for allowing me to guest blog about a complex issue that needs to be on the mind of every California voter.
This November, Californians are going to be asked to vote on Proposition 34, to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. This is a chance for us to make meaningful change in our state, and it is the number one reason I am excited to vote in November. However, as the election gets closer, I hear a lot of things about the death penalty that are simply not true.
Here are some facts about the death penalty and public safety in California:
- We have spent 4 billion on the Death Penalty since 1978. It is expected that we will spend approximately 1 billion more in the next 5 years.
- Just 13 people have been executed.
- 46% of murders go unsolved in California each year.
- 56% of reported rapes are unsolved each year.
Some facts about Yes on 34:
- By replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, California will save $130 million/year (according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office)
- The convicted would be required to work and part of their salary will go towards restitution for victims’ families.
- $30 million a year for three years will be put aside to help local law enforcement solve the huge backlog of cases and give justice to families.
- No guilty person sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole will be released from jail, but we will make sure that California never executes an innocent person.
But this issue is about more than just facts for me. Eight years ago, my aunt was murdered by her only son while he was in the midst of a schizophrenic break. It sent our family spiraling. Our confusion, anger, sadness, and hurt was overwhelming. To add to it, the District Attorney decided to pursue the death penalty for my cousin.
While some of my family planned a funeral, the rest of us had to mount a defense. We all agreed that what he did was horrible and he needed to be kept away from general society. However, we believed that the death penalty was not an appropriate punishment for a young man that was very sick. He could receive the treatment he desperately needed and not pose a threat to society by going to a mental institution. Eventually, we convinced the District Attorney that this was true, and the death penalty charges were dropped, though our family was still shattered.
This experience led me to working as the Northern California Coordinator for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. I represent 720 families who have lost a loved one to violence. Though we have various reasons, we all have come to the same conclusion: the death penalty does nothing to alleviate our pain or suffering.
I recognize that for many, the death penalty is a legally, financially and emotionally complicated issue. Yet the facts speak for themselves. It is a system that is costing our state enormous amounts of money, and failing to help families of murder victims. I urge everyone to read more about why California’s death penalty is so broken, and in November, vote Yes on Prop 34.
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