Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian sign the petition that may put a pro-death penalty initiative before the California voters in November.
LOS ANGELES – Three former governors signed a petition Thursday aimed at putting an initiative before voters in November designed to end lengthy delays in California executions, but a death-penalty opponent called the proposal “deeply flawed.”
Former Govs. Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian were among those attending a Los Angeles news conference to throw their support behind the proposal, which would shorten the length of the appeals process and require death-row inmates to share cells with other inmates — a move supporters say would save millions of dollars.
“All three governors believe strongly that there should be a death penalty for the most heinous crimes in this state,” Davis said.
There has not been an execution in California since 2006.
“Families wait too long to finally get to that point where somebody’s life is going to be taken for the crimes they have committed,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said.
Former professional football player Kermit Alexander, whose mother, sister and two nephews were killed in a 1984 home-invasion robbery in South Los Angeles, was also among those backing the initiative.
“My family was murdered brutally,” he said, noting that his relatives were killed “in a wrongful death situation because apparently the murderer couldn’t read the right address and went to the wrong house.”
“We’ve been waiting over 30 years for justice,” he said.
Supporters of the initiative must collect more than 800,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.
Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, said the initiative is misguided.
“This deeply flawed initiative is full of legal and practical problems, and will only increase litigation and costs,” he said. “No matter what anyone might say, California’s death penalty has repeatedly proven to be broken beyond repair. Instead of increasing the risk of executing innocent people and adding even more costs, we need to replace the dysfunctional death penalty system with life in prison without the possibility of parole.:
Cherry said support for the death penalty “is at historic lows, and more states are realizing that there are simply too many flaws in the system.”