The recent elections brought an array of important issues into the minds of the public. The death penalty however, remained somewhat of a background issue as candidates focused their efforts on addressing voters concerns about fiscal issues, such as the deficit and unemployment. This makes it easy to forget that this election brings with it great ramifications for the future of the death penalty on both the national and state level.
Perhaps most pertinent to the state of California, is the election of a new governor. Governor elect, Jerry Brown, is no stranger to the controversy surrounding the death penalty. During his first stint as governor in the 1970's, Brown was adamant about his opposition to the death penalty and even campaigned against its use in California. More recently however, Brown's opinions on the issue have become somewhat less principled. In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Brown stated that he would "prefer a society that didn't have to use the death penalty," yet affirmed his dedication to upholding the law. These statements brought waves of criticism, most notably from pro-death penalty opponent Meg Whitman, who expressed concerns about his apparent lack of ability to firmly choose a side on the issue.
Unlike the race for governor, San Francisco Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris and Steve Cooley have vehemently expressed polar opposite opinions on capital punishment. Cooley is a long time supporter of capital punishment, while Harris has stressed the importance of violence prevention and alternatives, such as life without parole. While the race is still too close to call, Cooley's tough-on-crime persona doesn't seem to have worked in his favor, as he currently trails Harris.
Salient on the national level is the reelection of Barbara Boxer. The long-time California favorite beat out tea-party-endorsed Carly Fiorina in the bid for Senator. Senator Boxer, who expresses concerns about the death penalty system, has openly called for a moratorium on executions within the state.
Overall, the citizens of California seem to have elected candidates who, for the most part, express varying degree of opposition to the death penalty. Perhaps this is indicative of a growing public sentiment against capital punishment, or perhaps voters elected these candidates for other reasons. Whatever the cause, with a death row population of more than 700 inmates, California's election of the above mentioned candidates will undoubtedly have a profound impact on us all.
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Comment by Claudia, Nov 25th, 2010 12:45pm
And Kamala wins!!!! I do agree that other factors may have caused voters to voted this way for other reasons, but a realization that the DP is barbaric also plays some roles. Well said!
Comment by Sue Roth, Nov 20th, 2010 5:53am
I wanted to let you know that I ran a week-long series on various aspects of my blog. The series starts here: http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/2010/11/taking-faith-behind-bars.html.
Hope you'll visit and chime in; you would bring a valuable perspective to the discussion.