Why Can’t Jerry See the Obvious? CUT THIS!

Jerry BrownCalifornia’s budget debacle is more dire than ever, so it’s no surprise that Governor Jerry Brown is hunkering down in search of solutions as he approaches the California Democratic Party’s state convention at the end of the month. But some of his fellow Democrats and a growing number of other organizations around the state are staring one budget solution in the face and just want Jerry to open his eyes: CUT THIS!

The state’s death penalty is an ineffective waste of tax dollars that we simply can’t afford, yet while the Governor and Assembly slash everything from preschool to geriatric care, the state remains poised to spend $1 billion on the death penalty over the next five years.

That’s a billion dollars that can be saved with a few strokes of the Governor’s pen – all he has to do is convert the death sentences of those awaiting execution to life without parole, and POOF! The death penalty is cut from the budget and California saves $1 billion without releasing a single prisoner.

While he’s been acting oblivious to this fact, plenty of others around the state aren’t. The ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and leaders in the California Democratic Party are alerting the Governor to this solution.

The California Democratic Party woke up to the problems with the death penalty last year. That’s when the state party formally adopted death penalty repeal in its platform, calling for replacing capital punishment with permanent imprisonment to promote safe communities. Now, activists around the state are organizing the party on a grassroots level to take the next step and demand that Governor Brown convert California’s death sentences to life without parole for instant budget savings.

Ironically enough, this latest groundswell originated in LA County, the state’s leader in death sentences. That’s where last month the Los Angeles County Democratic Party overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the Governor to cut the death penalty and save $1 billion by converting death sentences to life without parole, then submitted that resolution for consideration by the state party. Now dozens of Democratic committees, clubs, officials, activists and delegates have joined the movement to demand that Governor Brown recognize the budget solution that saves money while providing real criminal justice reform.

The California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento is fast approaching – April 29 to May 31. That’s where the party’s leadership will consider the resolution and decide whether the entire California Democratic Party will call on our Governor – their fellow Democrat – to follow through with his party’s principles and cut the death penalty.

james clarkI plan to be there representing the LA County Coalition for Death Penalty Alternatives, working with activists from around the state to educate delegates about the death penalty’s costly and unfixable flaws.

But even if you can’t make it to Sacramento, we need the help of activists all over the world to ensure that Governor Brown knows that millions of people everywhere support this common sense reform that creates real justice, real accountability, and real savings. Tell Jerry to Cut This.

James Clark

James Clark is a writer for Change.org and an anti-death penalty campaigner based in Southern California.


  1. says

    To this fine article, I would add that attempts to “speed up appeals” are formulas for increasing the risk of executing the innocent as well as the guilty but mentally ill and/or brain damaged; and that such efforts would actually mean spending _more_ money each year on the bottomless pit of a quest for judicial homicide.

    While a majority of Californians in a 2009 survey favored “the death penalty” in the abstract, 66% actually preferred life without parole or permanent imprisonment coupled with a requirement of restitution to the victim’s family — both already on the books in California. So the people of California want swift and severe punishment for our most heinous murders — but welcome the alternative of permanent imprisonment plus restitution which will save $1 billion over the five years.

  2. Ken Bear Cole says

    We should solve two problems. #1 Let execute the criminals on death row. They should only be granted one apeal and then we reduce over crowding. #2 almost all of California’s prisions are over crowded. so let’s kill those who have committed capital crimes. Some will protest that putting a leathal dose of seditive is “Crule & Unusual Punishment.” Think of the crimes these people have been convicted of, Murder, rape, tourture, kidnapping …ect. These are people who do not belong in society. It’s time to stop housing them. Put them to death!

  3. says

    Thanks James. Remember, this is now in the California Democratic Party platform. It would be good for all our electeds to read the platform. Let’s do the right thing, save taxpayers millions and use the money to fund programs that dfght crime, keep kids in schools and out of prison in the first place.


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