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You Should Know: Why Death Row Inmates Oppose LWOP

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Jonathan Simon

Reporting on the front page of today's SFChron Bob Egelko finally says what many of us who visit San Quentin prison have known for months, most  of California's death row inmates oppose Proposition 34; the voter initiative on this November's ballot that would abolish capital punishment and replace it with Life With Out Parole (LWOP) even retroactively. (read the story here).  Yes that's right, prisoners who face a lethal injection unless a court overturns their death sentence or conviction are opposed to a law that would immediately accomplish what many of them have been litigating to achieve for years, the removal of their death sentence.


Speaking truth about crime

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Kekoa Maibusan

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty sent a questionnaire into over 200 prisoners in San Quentin seeking their thoughts about the SAFE Act. Below is one of the many responses we received. 

My name is Kekoa Manibusan. At the unseasoned age of 19, I was charged with and ultimately convicted of multiple murders, sentenced to death at twenty-two, and afforded residence at San Quentin State Prison. Far from idle, for the past eleven years I have been trying to make sense of it all.

The discoveries have been alarming. Suppressing adverse tenets in my tortured soul, led to an explosion that resulted in blood, death, and sorrow. It is said that “all actions begin with an inner-process.”


How safe are we?

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Michael Flinner

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty sent a questionnaire into over 200 prisoners in San Quentin seeking their thoughts about the SAFE Act. Below is one of the many responses we received. 

Savings Accountability and Full Enforcement for California Act (SAFE). It’s crazy how a bevy of someones can create something so deceitful, yet title it with a striking acronym. Any third-grader would see it as intentional.

The informed, however slight, might compose amusing plays upon words—preventing California’s unassuming residents from taking political lip service on faith by those building magnificent careers in local government.


Death sentence by another name

Examining the California SAFE Act


By: Darrell Lomax

I am responding to the proposed ballot initiative "SAFE (Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement) California" that has garnered enough signatures to be on the November 2012 ballot for Californians to vote on.

The initiative was initially filed on August 26, 2011, by Jeanne Woodford, a retired warden of San Quentin State Prison and executive director of Death Penalty Focus, and it saddens me deeply that enough Californians have now signed petitions to qualify it for the ballot. I hope that this letter will enlighten you as to why this bill is unconstitutional and does a disservice to all innocent people, both on death row and beyond, and why it is wrong to advocate for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)--which is a death sentence simply being called by another name.


Lou

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed


By: Caitlin Adams

I recently became familiar with a journalist/author, Dudley Clendinen.  Mr. Clendinen died May 31, 2012 of complications of ALS—the disease I also have.  Before his death, Mr. Clendinen did a weekly radio show on NPR in Baltimore, called "Living with Lou“–“Lou" for Lou Gehrig, baseball great who also died of ALS complications.  Most people are more familiar with the name Lou Gehrig's disease than the medical name ALS.  Mr. Clendinen and I shared a very similar take on "Lou".

Lou is merciless, relentless, a pit bull, a ball-buster.  There is no treatment.  There is no cure. Lou is also a patient teacher, a spiritual guide, a "live in the moment" Master.  John O'Donnell, a favorite author, wrote a book of blessings and one of the blessings that I have really embraced is titled “For A Friend on the Arrival of an Illness”.  I consider myself a friend so it seemed an auspicious blessing for me.  


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