Monday, October 1, 2012

Why one newspaper changed its death penalty position

The Sacramento Bee has supported the death penalty since the paper's founding more than 150 years ago. But last month it reversed that position.

Californians will vote in November on whether to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole. In researching Proposition 34, The Bee's editorial board decided the state's death penalty system was irreparably broken. The paper ran a weeklong series examining the unequal application of capital punishment, the lack of evidence that it has a deterrent effect, Texas's record in carrying out the death penalty and why a switch to life without parole would be a better approach. The series, at, elicited a large reader response.

North Carolina has had a de facto moratorium on the death penalty for several years now, but it is still on the books.

The Observer's editorial board has long opposed the death penalty. We believe it is more expensive even than life without parole. More importantly, we believe it is morally wrong for the government to kill people, the application of the death penalty is unfair and inconsistent, and the horror of the possibility of executing an innocent person outweighs any benefit.

-- Taylor Batten


Skippy said...

Didn't President Obama use an drone to kill an unarmed American citizen who had ties to Charlotte? Must have missed the memo on that one?

My question is though since when do you liberals care about the cost of anything unless of course it is military spending?

The Observer Editorial Board said...


You must have missed this:

EuroCat said...

Skippy (AKA Mikey) tends to miss a lot of things if they don't conform to his biases and promote his agenda.

Garth Vader said...

To the Ed Board,

The editorial you cite in your 2:17 post reads, "Holder and Obama should release the Justice Department's legal opinion so that Americans can evaluate the reasoning of why and when a country should be allowed to kill one of its own."

This obviously means that you DO approve of government killing its own citizens, in direct contradiction to what you write in the final paragraph of today's piece. The contradictions between the March 8 piece and today's could not be more obvious: Government killing is OK when approved by King 'Bama, not OK when deliberated and agreed to unanimously by a jury in accordance with the Fifth Amendment.

You get more pathetic by the day.

EuroCat said...

Garth Vader, you're as bad as Mikey.

In fact, the line you quote in the Observer's editorial on the drone killing makes it quite clear that the Observer expects a heckuva lot better explanation than has been forthcoming before Americans - the Observer editorial board included - can accept these sort of attacks on Americans.

That's not "approval"...far from it. Like Mikey, you see only what conforms to your own biases and agenda.

John said...

"we believe it is morally wrong for the government to kill people"

Yes, it is. It's also morally wrong for the government to legalize and proclaim a mother's "right" to kill her unborn child, but that doesn't slow you down on supporting abortion!

Garth Vader said...


The Board could have easily written "we believe it is morally wrong for the government to kill people" in their editorial about the drone killings. They did not. They chose that language to oppose the killing of people who have actually been tried and convicted. Anwar al-Awlaki was not even charged with any crime. Neither was Samir Khan.

Today's piece speaks to "the horror of the possibility of executing an innocent person". Since they were never charged, Mr. al-Awlaki and Mr. Khan are innocent. Obama killed them. And the Observer responded with some wishy-washy "we want an explanation" as opposed to today's strong attacks on capital punishment.

King Ward said...

It really doesn't matter. They weren't going to execute anyone out there anyway. They've been feeding and housing Manson and his gang and the Hilltop Strangler for years.

Larry Comrades said...

Media incest. One liberal paper raves about another liberal paper and to boot owned by the same liberal and alternative loving lifestyle owner. Now tell us that the observer has not jumped the shark.

Wiley Coyote said...


Enough said.

Timothy Whitson said...

I have mixed emotions regarding the death penalty.

In the case of the Connecticut home invasion, there is direct evidence of the crime and the killers were caught fleeing the scene in the family's vehicle. The family was sexually assaulted and terrorized for hours prior to being murdered and their home set on fire. These folks need to be kicked off the planet.

In many previous convictions, however, the death penalty was imposed with nothing other than eyewitness testimony which has been proven by studies to be much less than absolute truth. Several eyewitnesses have recanted, and sometimes told of coaching by law enforcement. Several suspects were convicted even though they themselves had eyewitness alibis away from the scene of the crime. To date, 300 have been set free after absolute DNA evidence proved their innocence decades after imprisonment.

There needs to be a moratorium until a more sophisticated plan can be legislated; one by which there must be several factors proven before the death penalty can be imposed including conclusive physical evidence in addition to witness testimony.

I'm for the death penalty, but we're getting it wrong.

cooldela1966 said...

I am fascinated that many of those who are passionately opposed to the death penalty for convicted felons are so passionate in their defense of abortion. I hear many say that we cannot kill a convicted felon because we might have made a mistake in the court proceeding. Is their any feeling that the unborn child might also like to live?

Jim said...

I am a dinosaur, I'm aware. I disagree with Timothy Whitson in that I have no mixed emotions where the death penalty is concerned. I disagree with every point of the posture of the Observer's editorial board.

I believe that it is an obligation of the people's representatives to protect the rights of the people: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who have deliberately ended another's life, except in defending their own or that of a third party, have forfeited the protection of law.

Make that forfeiture swift -- not after 20 years [MOL] of "appeals" -- and absolutely certain.

Tandemfusion said...

I oppose the death penalty. Here's why: we know that courts and juries often get it wrong. We know that they acquit innocent people and we know as well that they convict innocent people. (Think O.J. Simpson or Lenell Geter) People often say acknowledge that level of inaccuracy and but support the death penalty but only when it is absolutely certain that the accused has committed the crime. The problem is that the difference between non criminal homicide, criminal but non capital murder, and capital murder is not in the nature of the act but rather in the perception, intent and state of mind of the person who killed. Because it is impossible to actually KNOW the mind of another, it is impossible to eliminate the opportunity for error in charging and convicting an individual of capital murder.
All of that then means that the government, if it is allowed to execute citizens will periodically, unintentionally and randomly kill persons innocent of the crime of which they have been convicted. and that means that means that in order to provide the means to kill the guilty, we must accept that the government will, from time to time kill the innocent.
I simply don't want my government to have that much power. I don't want the government to have the power to randomly kill innocent citizens in order to preserve the power to kill the guilty ones.