Briggs: Death penalty doesn’t work
California has many local issues on the ballot, and Prop. 34 is a charged one that addresses “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act” while replacing California’s death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, in order to avoid executing the innocent by trial mistake. Yet, this isn’t enough. This measure will not solve overcrowding and murder incidence.
Ron Briggs, county supervisor in the county of El Dorado, east of Sacramento, declared in the LA Times that he thought that the Briggs initiative—the death penalty measure written in 1977—would bring greater justice. However, now he says that he was wrong. He once believed this initiative would make California a safer place, but what it actually has done is create a system that overindulges murderers, makes lawyers rich and tripled the death row population.
Now Briggs is endorsing the SAFE California campaign. It is somehow gratifying to see a Republican publicly admitting a mistake and endorsing those against his own death penalty initiative. However, even if Prop. 34 passes, it won’t reduce the incidence of murder on the streets. A forensic psychologist who dealt with Death Row inmates once told me how most of the inmates had extremely tough childhoods, which inevitably affected their mental and emotional health. Many of these inmates had no education. A history of a dysfunctional family is also common. As David R. Dow, Litigation Director at the Texas Defender Service and Founder and Co-director of the Texas Innocence Network said: “If you tell me the name of a death row inmate—doesn’t matter what state he’s in, doesn’t matter if I’ve ever met him before—I’ll write his biography for you.”
Death row inmate share similar childhood stories
According to David R. Dow, eight out of 10 murderers share the same childhood stories. Most have been beaten, molested, raped and endured indisputable dire circumstances. His proposal is a bold plan that prevents murders in the first place.
My point is not so much to pity or forgive, but catch kids who grow up in a disadvantaged environment, before they are beyond repair. David. R. Dow’s Ted talk Lessons from death row inmates, explains how early intervention can change the course of a potential murderer’s life and those associated with him.
A sound educational system catering to those at risk of becoming murderers due to their disadvantaged upbringing would lessen the chances of convictions. Giving children an opportunity to succeed in life is a good initiative, instead of leaving them stranded with a life already predetermined by the horrors of their childhood.
We should all become part of the solution by backing laws and initiatives that bring hope for abused children who are at risk of becoming murderers.
Watch video on death penalty by TED Talks David R. Dow: Lessons from death row inmates