Debate on California executions turned into abolitionist rally
World Coalition member organisation Death Penalty Focus and the American Civil Liberties Union took advantage of a public hearing on California’s new lethal injection protocol to stage a successful protest against the death penalty on June 30.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) invited submissions from the public on the proposed regulations, either in writing on during the public hearing.
The CDCR received more than 5,000 letters and over 100 people spoke at the hearing – lawyers, doctors, exonerees, family members of victims, family members of the executed, ministers and priests. Only two of the speakers supported the death penalty.
Bill Babbitt, of World Coalition member organisation Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights, testified that the proposed protocol deals inappropriately with the family of the executed. Members of Death Penalty focus read the letters sent by other World Coalition members around the globe.
All of the statements at the hearing and all of the letters must be reviewed by the state, and every point must be addressed in the final file, to be completed by May 1, 2010.
Executions may only resume after the execution protocol is approved. There are more than 680 inmates on California’s death row – the largest number in the US.
One billion dollars
A rally gathering hundreds of death penalty opponents accompanied the hearing on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of the governor. Death Penalty Focus president, actor and author Mike Farrell led the rally.
Death Penalty Focus’s international co-ordinator Elizabeth Zitrin, said: “I led a small delegation to the office of the Governor, the Austrian-born movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, to ask him to come outside to receive a check for one billion Dollars – the amount of money the state will save in 5 years if we abolish the death penalty now.” The state of California is facing a deep deficit.
Schwarzenegger refused to meet the delegation, but its message went across thanks to the numerous journalists who covered the event.
Watch video footage from June 30 below: