Senator Loni Hancock, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, has filed a legal brief supporting the elimination of California’s death penalty.
Senator Hancock was joined in filing the brief by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and former Assembly Member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).
The brief was filed on behalf of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who last year had his death sentence overturned by Federal District Court Judge Cormac Carney.
In his ruling overturning Jones’ death sentence, Judge Carney declared California’s death penalty system to be unconstitutional.
Hancock’s legal brief, known as an Amicus Curiae (“Friend of the Court”), was filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco in support of Judge Carney’s ruling.
“California’s death penalty is an expensive failure and not fixable,” Senator Hancock said. “As Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, I have reviewed dozens of bills intended to address problems with the death penalty. Each of these bills presented serious due process and constitutional concerns, and many would have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to implement.”
“After reviewing many in-depth studies, I have come to the conclusion that California’s death penalty is not more effective in deterring crime than a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Senator Hancock added. “California taxpayers have already spent more than $4 billion on the death penalty since 1978. I believe that public safety would be better served by investing those dollars in programs to reduce crime.”
Senator Hancock said that California remains at risk of executing an innocent person. “Wrongful executions have already happened in other states. Attempting to ‘speed up’ or ‘reform’ the existing system will only increase the possibility of error and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more,” Senator Hancock said.