Voices from California's Death Row

Stephen E. Hajek

I, Stephen E. Hajek, do not feel the death penalty should be repealed. This ballot does not show consideration to the situation prisoners deal with here. The fact that you are doing this is just aggravating because we all know your true interest lie in a pool of self-gratifying “feel-good” altruism. These types of initiatives are written to make you feel better, not us. 

If you want to save people here don’t push them to a place they will be victimized or lead to suicide. People’s lives in here are stable, we don’t have the drama found a level 4 lifer’s plate. Abolish the death penalty and you send us to an uncertain and maybe unhealthy future. At les here prisoners have come to terms with what could happen one day as opposed to being somewhere they are not sure what will happen tomorrow. The men in here are more and more stressed out over this ballot than they’ve ever been about an execution. 

What you don’t understand is that the conditions in here are prime for a lot of the types of crimes committed. Single cells, fairly safe environment, stable staff and administration relations and personal acceptance of why things are the way they are, and for some a complete understanding that this is it for them, death penalty or heart are really  no different, it’s all about how they live until it happens. Why do you want to change that? Do you feel your sense of moral righteousness means you know what’s best for us? Why not present a ballot allowing those who want to keep the death penalty can stay and the rest get lwop? Seriously, do you really believe the state will actually speed up executions? The appeal process is run by the feds – the state can’t go faster unless the federal courts say so. You only see the lowest possible solution. 

You really don’t’ understand how good it is here, death penalty and all. Force us to lwop and you condemn to a life of racism, gangs, violence, rape, extortion and staff abuse. Is that your idea of a better deal? We might be stabbed to death for not having enough money to pay gangs for protection buy hey, at least it’s not a state sanctioned execution right? You have men in here with regular doctors who they have known for years and understand each other, send them to level 4 and their treatment will change. There are mental health patients who have come to depend upon the relationships and trust with their psych doctors. Take that away and they could deteriorate more than they are now. You would do this just to make yourself feel good. It’s….I don’t even have a word for it right now. 

You don’t understand our legal works, we were convicted under laws pertaining to the death penalty. These laws are what gives some of us chances to win our appeals. If you think the courts will give us a fair consideration after you fix the penalty… Yeah, OK, keep on with that one. You complain the death penalty doesn’t kill fast enough to be cost effective so answer this: what’s more important to you, insuring that no other prisoner “might” be executed or insuring that no other prisoner will “get out” because you fixed the penalty to LWOP? No more executions or no more appellate victories? Winning appeal issue don’t just affect us, they change the system, a system which is overturning cases fast than it has in the past 20 years. What’s the chance that can go on or even get better? ZERO if your ballot become law.

So please step down form your self-mandated pedestal of moral superiority and stop trying to manipulate our lives with your interests. Also, please stop giving credit to the California Victim Compensation and government claims board will you. They are nothing more than money-tapping bureaucrats. Restitution is a form of double jeopardy and illegal. Look, I understand this is not the response you want but it what’s you get when you meddle. If you want to get rid of the death penalty then take some advantage of it’s slowness and try to create some programs to make death row prisoner look more presentable and valuable. Give the public a reason to not kill us instead of simply seeing it wrong for state to kill. 

From Stephen E. Hajek