My oldest son, Paul Raftery, was murdered on December 8, 2006 in Helena, Montana by two young men looking for drug money. Paul had no money in his wallet.
Prior to Paul’s murder, I had been involved with California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty. Sometimes, people would tell me that I would feel differently about my views on the death penalty if my child was murdered. After I received the call that Paul had been killed, I stopped to think about my opinion. It hadn’t changed.
I don't understand the concept of closure. After all, putting someone to death, in my case those two murderers, will never bring my sorely missed son back. The two murderers received sentences of life with the possibility of parole after 55 years, essentially a life sentence. I felt justice had been served.
I’d had the chance to talk to Paul about my activities with the California People of Faith. That’s when he quietly told me he, too, opposed the death penalty. I was surprised, but very gratified that he shared my beliefs having served 12 years as a law enforcement officer.
In November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote for SAFE California, a ballot initiative that will replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. This measure will save Californians over $1 billion in the next five years and create a one-time fund of $100 million to help local police investigate and solve the 46% of unsolved murders across the state.
My hope is that no mother is forced to endure the loss of a child to violent crime. That is why I believe so strongly in using our resources to prevent crime and keep our streets safe. The death penalty costs Californians $184 million a year more than the alternative but equally harsh punishment, life in prison without the possibility of parole. That money would be better spent hiring more police officers to help protect our communities.
I also believe that we need to be providing for the victims of these horrible acts. SAFE California means that victims will not be dragged through decades of appeals. Inmates will be locked up behind bars forever, where they will work and pay money toward restitution and victim compensation. They will lose the special privileges that death row provides them, including their own cell. And the tremendous savings will help free up money to support victim services like counseling and medical treatment.
It has now been five years since the young men who murdered our son were sentenced and we received justice. To honor Paul, I am expressing my support for the SAFE California Campaign. I hope that others will see that it is time we start using limited resources to address the real issues behind violent crime, and to help the victims that are left behind.
Posted in Blog, CCV/Victims
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Comment by DPF Staff, Jul 30th, 2012 10:28am
To Get Tough on Crime:
Thank you for your comment, but some of the things you stated are simply not true.
The prisons in California are NOT a nice place to be (we've visited many and seen firsthand). There is not AC in all the prisons (San Quentin, for example), and most do not have all the privileges you speak of. The cells are very small and people in general population sleep two to a cell. On death row, however, they are single-celled.
The death penalty is also not a deterrent. The rate of unsolved murders in California is 46% - which means that there are thousands of murderers still walking the streets, and many people who commit crime assume they will not be caught.
Furthermore, the death penalty simply costs more than housing someone for the rest of their life. The numbers have been proven time and time again - if we want to save money, we need to end the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without possibility of parole - a very harsh punishment. That will allow us to save millions of dollars per year, and use some of that money to solve unsolved murders and hold people accountable for their crimes.
Thanks for commenting!
Comment by Get Tough On Crime, Jul 28th, 2012 12:48pm
I cannot imagine what you went through, however there is no deterent because inmates who have been convicted of crimes are not living badly in prison.
So they get educated, get great medical treatment seeing a doctor more than I do.
They get all kinds of recreational activities.
They get money from their families to blow away on gambling and their debts to other inmates.
They get a captive audience, they get all the attention of other inmates, and staff who have to be around when they become violent.
They eat very good.
They watch television and play games like xbox, etc.
They play pool.
They work out.
I don't think you have any idea of how good inmates have it. They have air conditioning, and heating.
And don't forget, your tax money is paying for all of that.
They don't have a care in the world.
They don't have to worry about where their next meal comes from. They don't have to worry about a roof over their heads. They don't have to worry about bills and paying rent. It is all took care of by society. When a crime is committed, not only do the victims suffer, society suffers for years to come.
I feel bad for your loss, but think of what the cost was not only to you, but to society who will have to feed and shelter the inmate for the rest of his life.
We pay for his medical bills too....his open heart surgery, his dental bills, his pills and drugs. All paid for by society.
Comment by Ruggero Gabbrielli, Jun 16th, 2012 3:11pm
Totally agree. You might be interested in signing this petition.