Feature

Giving up on the death penalty

In California, and many other states, the death penalty “is a cruel lie," said Donald A. McCartin in the Los Angeles Times.

Donald A. McCartinLos Angeles Times

After I sentenced 10 killers to die, they called me “the hanging judge,’’ said former California Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin. But since I’ve learned that not one of these murderers has been executed, decades later, I’ve changed my mind about the death penalty. Lengthy appeals, legal errors, and retrials have made a “mockery of decisions I once believed promised resolution for the family members of victims,’’ as well as cost the state tens of millions of dollars in court costs. Family members of the murdered, rather than being given fictitious “closure’’ by an execution, have been dragged through years of “emotional torture,’’ as cases bounce around an endless legal maze.

In California, and many other states, the death penalty “is a cruel lie.’’ What victims’ families deserve, and justice requires, is that we swiftly lock up those convicted of murder and throw away the key, by imposing a life sentence without the possibility of parole. “It’s time to stop playing the killing game,’’ and wasting money on death-penalty cases that are never resolved. Spend it instead on law enforcement, schools, and the needy.

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