Opinion: The death penalty kills voters’ sanity

Members of the media are seen in 2010 touring California's new lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As I turned the pages of my newspaper Wednesday morning and reached the op-ed section, my eye initially caught a colorful photograph of what looked like a row of mint-green suitcases on a conveyor belt. What a pretty color, I thought; I’ll have to read that piece. (“The more we confront the death penalty, the less we like it,” Opinion, Nov. 23)

My heart sank when I realized that it was in fact a photo of the gurney inside California’s lethal injection chamber. It was accompanying the op-ed article by law professors Carol Steiker and Jordan Steicker on California voters’ disgraceful decision to reject Proposition 62, which would have banned the death penalty in the state.

Voters’ knee-jerk reactions to symbolism and the abstract appeals to “law and order” are sinking us. Well, OK: At times they’re literally killing us. What happened to our process of critical thinking and what the authors wisely refer to as “engaged decision-making”?

Jane Faulkner, Santa Barbara



To the editor: The authors of the op-ed article against capital punishment make some questionable claims.

One is that many voters are impulsive-driven at the polls to vote in favor of capital punishment, meaning we have not thought about this particular issue before. Where is the evidence for this claim?

In addition, the authors cite the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences report of 2012 and conclude that there is no reliable evidence that the death penalty helps deter murder. However, the authors don’t tell us that this very exhaustive report actually states there is no reliable evidence either way on this issue.


Distorting the results of this report and demeaning the average voter as impulse-driven will not persuade many Californians to change their minds on the death penalty.

Robert Newman, West Hills

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