During a three week period in early October 2002, a deranged sniper shot and killed 10 people and injured three others along Interstate 95 in Virginia and the Capital Beltway in Washington D.C. John Allen Muhammad, the “Beltway Sniper,” and an accomplice were caught and arrested on October 24.
Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to death in two states – Maryland and Virginia. After six years of legal maneuvering Muhammad’s last minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court was rejected and he was executed by lethal injection on November 9, 2009.
It took two states with separate judicial systems less than seven years to convict, sentence and execute a murderer.
Compare that to California where the average time from sentencing until punishment is about 25 years. In the last 20 years, California has executed only 13 murderers while Texas has executed over 400. Justice delayed is justice denied. Here are a few examples:
- To protect murderers from “cruel and unusual punishment,” liberal legislators and judges have banned all methods of execution except lethal injection, and even that has a stringent prescriptive formula and numerous mandates.
- The chemical formula required for the injection is not only complex, but it is produced by very few companies, some of which refuse to sell the product if it is going to be used for executions. This has led to shortages, increased costs and long delays.
- Unlike their victims, convicted murderers in California have a physician in attendance to ensure a “humane” execution. Finding physicians who are willing to participate has been challenging at best.
- The Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which presides over death penalty appeals from California's judicial system, is a further impediment. The 9th Circuit is filled with liberal judges appointed by Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama. In fact, it has the highest level of Democrat-appointed judges in the nation at 57% (16 of 26 judges with 2 vacancies).
- In all other U.S. Courts of Appeal all justices participate in every en banc appeal. Not so in the 9th Circuit which uses a random 15 member subset of judges to hear each case. This causes a myriad of problems when different subsets of judges give conflicting rulings on similar cases. These contradictory decisions add more costs and longer delays.
- With 45 percent of its rulings reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court last term, the 9th Circuit is the most overturned in the entire U.S. Its numerous misinterpretations of the law have caused enormous taxpayer expense. For instance, in 1992 the scheduled execution of Robert Alton Harris, who had brutally murdered two teenagers, was delayed several hours by four different judges in the 9th Circuit each issuing a stay of execution. Four times throughout the day the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and ordered the execution to go forth. With the last order, a frustrated SCOTUS reprimanded the out of control judges by ruling "No further stays of Robert Alton Harris' execution shall be entered by the federal courts except upon order of this court."
In short, California's liberal legislators and judges have conspired in every way imaginable to eliminate the death penalty with a coordinated effort to escalate costs and exacerbate delays.
Now they are pushing Senate Bill 490—to abolish the death penalty in California. And, the reasoning they offer for usurping the carriage of justice is – “It costs too much and there are too many delays.”
Their goal all along was to rig the system to fail and then exploit that failure.
Clearly, other states are able to implement the death penalty in a timely and effective manner. There is no justification for California's failure to uphold its laws. It’s a familiar case of liberal public officials simply thumbing their noses at the will of the voters who have consistently supported the death penalty every time it appears on the ballot.
There is no greater threat to a free society than the weakening of its criminal laws. Attacks on public safety will rile citizens faster than almost any other issue. Not too long ago California voters tossed three State Supreme Court Justices out of office when they refused to enforce the death penalty. California’s liberal leaders would be wise to keep that in mind as they continue their quest to abolish the death penalty. Californians deserve swift justice, not delayed and denied.
California State Senator Joel Anderson represents the counties of San Diego and Riverside and is Vice-Chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee.