We Don't Want It

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Correll Thomas

The "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act," (The SAFE California Act) is an atrocity and I question the author and sponsor(s)’ motives behind the initiative. Who are they really working for? Who are they really working with?

Life in prison, without the possibility of parole, is no more of an answer or accomplishment than is the addition of the word "Rehabilitation" to the California Department of Correction’s name.

[My personal opinion is that] It’s obvious that the people responsible for the SAFE California act don’t give a damn about those of us affected by their decision, or more importantly the fact that what they are proposing possibly pits us against one another.

There are at least 14 men who have exhausted all of their appeals. For a few of them, this initiative preserves their lives, for now: only to torture them slowly. There are hundreds of us condemned men as well as several condemned women awaiting representation who have never had an opportunity to have our cases reviewed for possible innocence, constitutional violations, ineffective assistance of council, or any other circumstances that would demonstrate justice was not served. For us, the authors of this initiative know, combined with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), the courthouse doors will be slammed forever. They are attempting to force us, condemned men and women, to accept another Death Penalty without any habeas review of our sentences. And for the few condemned men and women who currently have representation today; unless they have the funds to retain council for representation, themselves, they would automatically be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) and lose their representation.

So, for all I’ve spoken with, "WE DON’T WANT IT!!!" We’d much rather continue to appeal than, as this initiative would have it, be fed as well as locked into the grips of this racist, antagonistic, and retaliatory slave driven establishment disguising itself as a Department of Corrections.

Again, who are they really working for? Who are they really working with?

People, we are talking about groups and organizations who are proposing continued job security for a system that is broken, and for those who enjoy oppressing others. This can’t be for us. We’ve never been contacted by anyone representing this initiative. With a name like Death Penalty Focus, one would think their purpose would be to assist and shed light on the continuous violation of human rights, constitutional rights, and civil liberties. In writing this initiative, in all actuality, they are in support of this country imprisoning its citizens for their natural lives, without parole. That is to say they see themselves as, or believe they are qualified, with Supreme Being-like power, to determine ones redemptive value, or that one has no redemptive value. But, wait a minute. Maybe I’m the one mistaken here. You see, I was under the impression that Death Penalty Focus was an "Anti-Death Penalty" organization. Maybe I’m wrong about that. And, if I’m wrong about that, I’m wrong about everything I’m saying here. I don’t think so.

About a year or so ago, give or take a month or two, Death Penalty Focus hired former Warden of San Quentin State Prison (Ms. Jeanne Woodford) as the Director of their organization. Jeanne Woodford has no problem admitting that she participated in four of the 13 state sponsored murders here on California’s death row. She has no problem telling everyone that now, all of a sudden, she’s had some miraculous change of heart, and now she does not believe in MURDERING us. Let’s say, for the sake of this piece that she’s telling the truth (but I don’t believe it one bit). I happen to know a guy by the name of Kevin Cooper who, on Ms. Jeanne Woodford’s watch, came within three hours of being her fifth victim. You will hear Ms. Woodford talk about many things, but you will not hear her talk about Kevin Cooper. Why is that? Kevin Cooper was almost MURDERED by this state, Ms. Woodford, and her then (Death Squad) henchmen. Has anyone ever heard Ms. Woodford expose the treatment of death row inmates? I’m curious to know that with all her talks about how her position has changed, how she feels and what her mission is now, why she hasn’t acknowledged those facts? Will she admit we are treated like animals here? Will she admit her former role? And, please, people, don’t be fooled by Ms. Woodford’s lack of dialogue about her ties and connections to Law Enforcement Agencies. Why that’s so important you might ask? Well, if you take a good look at the proposed initiative, you’d see that someone thought it might be a good idea to give (as an incentive) Law Enforcement 100 MILLION DOLLARS, and wouldn’t you believe this is so they support the initiative? If Death Penalty Focus is an "Anti-Death Penalty" organization, why is it that the majority of their initiative favors Law Enforcement? Does Law Enforcement really need more money to lock up more innocent people, shoot and kill more unarmed minorities? Why couldn’t Death Penalty Focus request putting that $100 million towards education? Why not support the 99%? Maybe because they’ve been infiltrated? Then again, maybe not. Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along in believing that Death Penalty Focus was in support of what was in my (as well as all Death Row inmates’) best interest. Why have my family vote in support of those who are trying to kill me? Either way you look at it, "WE DON’T WANT IT!!!"

 Correll Thomas is one of numerous men and women on California’s death row, who are currently unrepresented, and wait for counsel to be appointed. You will often hear the pro death penalty forces talk of the ‘years’ it takes to find justice, but most people are unaware of the years many prisoners wait as witnesses disappear, memories fade, evidence is lost and they even die awaiting justice ~ and they have no counsel appointed to represent them. If the California Safe Initiative passes this November, these men and women will most likely never have their cases reviewed.

Correll Thomas, P-55743, San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA 94974



In November, the people of California will be voting on a ballot measure that could repeal the death penalty there. Since it won a place on the ballot, the SAFE Act has been a topic of discussion and important debate among criminal justice reform activists.

  The measure has the potential to take over 700 people off death row in one of the largest death penalty states - yet the "tough on crime" proposals at the heart of the SAFE Act are leading a growing number of activists to turn against it.

0ver the next several months the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will be providing a forum about this debate on our website through a new blog titled "Examining the Califonia SAFE Act."

This blog project aims to collect various news articles, editorials and especially prisoners writing about this initiative.  We would love folks to send our way any articles or writings that you think will add to this discussion.  Contact us at randi@nodeathpenalty.org or lily@nodeathpenalty.org