YES, it is high time to end the death penalty in California. This November, we have a chance to do this! 9to5 as an organization stands for justice. Many women join 9to5 because of discrimination based on gender and/or income. We know that 9to5 members will never achieve full equality and economic empowerment if we don’t combat all forms of oppression.
It is 9to5’s public commitment to work to end all forms of oppression. Yet we know justice is in short supply in California’s criminal justice system. What could be more unjust, in a nation infused with systemic race and class discrimination, than legalized state executions?
Studies abound proving the disparate impact of the death penalty upon poor people of color:
The race of the perpetrator is a strong predictor in who actually sits on death row. While African Americans comprise only 13% of the U.S. population, they comprise 43% of death row prisoners and 35% of those executed.
The race of the victim is the single most reliable predictor of whether or not the death penalty will be given. (1990 U.S. General Accounting Office report)
Of the 14 states that have the death penalty, ten are in the Deep South, where the legacy of slavery is heaviest.
“The case of Troy Davis, executed in Georgia last year to mass, world-wide protests, gives us pause. While seven of eight witnesses have recanted their original trial testimony against him, this was not enough to stop the wheels of injustice from turning” states 9to5 Los Angeles board chair Avis Williams.
The cost of the death penalty also has a disparate impact upon poor people of color. California has spent four billion dollars on the death penalty since 1978. Eliminating it would save $1 billion in five years – funds that could be invested in our kids’ schools and in services for low-income women and families, the elderly and disabled.
The application of the death penalty upon any human being is ultimately barbaric, inherently cruel and unjust. Executions in California have been on hold since 2006, when the courts concluded lethal injection with a three-drug “cocktail” may have left the last six executed prisoners conscious but paralyzed after insufficient or poorly administered doses of sodium pentathlon. State killing reduces the humanity of those who inflict it as well. Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg wrote, “The deliberate institutionalized taking of human life by the state is the greatest conceivable degradation to the dignity of the human personality.”
“Because the State assumes the role of a supreme, God-like authority when it ends a human life, halting state executions will set a necessary limit to an imperfect system which can never guarantee perfect justice,” adds 9to5 Bay Area board chair Daislyn Pease.
This November, stand with 9to5 to end the death penalty in California. Vote YES on Ballot Proposition 34.