Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Time to Stop Playing the Killing Game

Donald McCartin is a retired Superior Court Judge in California. He was named to bench by Governor Jerry Brown in 1978. During his tenure on the bench he became, by his own admission, known as a "hanging judge" for the number of people he sentenced to death row. As he watches another go-around with Jerry Brown as governor, he thinks the time has come, for moral and economic reasons, for the Governor to end the death penalty in California:
I watch today as Gov. Brown wrestles with the massive debt that is suffocating our state and hear him say he doesn't want to "play games." But I cringe when I learn that not playing games amounts to cuts to kindergarten, cuts to universities, cuts to people with special needs — and I hear no mention of the simple cut that would save hundreds of millions of dollars, countless man-hours, unimaginable court time and years of emotional torture for victim's family members waiting for that magical sense of "closure" they've been falsely promised with death sentences that will never be carried out.

There is actually, I've come to realize, no such thing as "closure" when a loved one is taken. What family members must find is reconciliation with the reality of their loss, and that can begin the minute the perpetrator is sent to a prison he will never leave. But to ask them to endure the years of being dragged through the courts in pursuit of the ultimate punishment is a cruel lie.

It's time to stop playing the killing game. Let's use the hundreds of millions of dollars we'll save to protect some of those essential services now threatened with death. Let's stop asking people like me to lie to those victim's family members.