Editorial Board: Don’t kill with doubt

This election Californians will vote on banning the death penalty.

If the measure passes, some 700 inmates would see their death sentences changed to life terms without parole. In addition, those inmates would be relocated from their single-cell rooms back to the general prison population.

People may argue that this is a bad initiative and that people on death row should be executed for the heinous crimes they’ve committed; but California has only executed 13 inmates in the past 23 years. What is the point of having a process that is so slow?

More importantly, the death penalty defeats the purpose of our justice system. The justice system is in place to provide justice as the name implies, not vengeance. What does execution accomplish other than kill a person and provide vengeance for the victim’s families?

While the system is flawed, the point is also to rehabilitate inmates so they will not commit more crimes. Our system does not seem to do that — or at least, not well — when you hear about revolving prison doors and tales of criminals becoming better criminals in prison. If the death penalty is banned in the state the prison will have to do something about their growing prison populations, and rehabilitation would be the only way.

More importantly, part of the reason California has executed so few prisoners in the last two decades is because of the appeals process. Let’s face it, people are convicted beyond a reasonable doubt; that is not the same as being convicted with certainty.

As forensic technology has improved several convictions have been overturned pardoning inmates, in some cases, decades later.

People argue about the high cost of keeping inmates on death row for so long, but they really shouldn’t. It is selfish to think that way. To want swift “justice” at the expense of somebody else’s rights is monstrous. It is very possible that a person could have been wrongfully convicted, as stated before, and that person should have every possible resource to try and prove that person’s innocence.

It is best to have people live out long lives in prison than to kill one innocent person. How does wanting anything else than that make you better than a murderer?