Thursday, April 8, 2010

A death penalty record

Los Angeles Times article "A death penalty record" (April 8th, 2010) appears to be in error. It claims that Los Angeles County is a "killer county." While Los Angeles has sentenced individuals to death, none of those individuals have actually been killed.

Los Angeles isn't the only killer county in California; death sentences were also up sharply in Orange and Riverside counties last year.

This is hyperbolic at best. Since 1976, California has executed 13 individuals. One of these individuals, executed in 1996, George Bonin, was given two death sentences (for different sets of victims) for ten separate murders by Orange County independently of his death sentence from Los Angeles County for four other murders. The other execution, taking place in 2005, was of Stanley Williams, convicted of murdering a store clerk laying prone, and separately murdering a family of three.

It does not appear that calling Los Angeles County a "killer county" for executing two men, over the course of the last 31 years that individuals have been executed in Post-Gregg, Post-Proposition 8 California, is appropriate. Given that the two men were responsible for eighteen murders between them, the attack by the Times on Los Angeles County's death penalty cases does not seem to warrant the comment, that in the context of an absence of complete certainty about murderer culpability, Los Angeles County is "inhumane."

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