Many death row inmates oppose bid to halt executions (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney:
“Published today, November 2, 2012, in the Los Angeles Times, the writer addressed next week’s election in which if passed, Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. While it might seem unusual that opponents of Prop 34 that would abolish capital punishment include both death row inmates and law enforcement, they oppose the measure for opposite reasons. These inmates do not want to give up their right to have legal counsel paid for by the State of California handle their appeals as they would be treated differently if the Proposition were to pass. Law Enforcement believes the death penalty is a deterrent to those prone to criminality and do not want it banned.The Director of the group opposing this measure said:  ‘If you are thinking you are going to get your conviction overturned, you certainly have a better chance if you are sentenced to death rather than life because you are provided with more legal assistance…’  The death row inmates claim they need state-paid attorneys to investigate their criminal case and to thereafter file Petitions for Habeas Corpus, which is the legal process to present evidence that was not heard by the Superior Court during their trial, but can be presented to the U.S. District Court and through the federal court system after exhausting their appeals to state court.The fact remains that courts rarely overturn and set aside death penalty verdicts. On the other hand, California has put to death 13 convicted murderers since 1978, and has not executed anyone in the past 6 years.”