California’s death penalty should be reformed, not repealed
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Californians have strong feelings regarding the death penalty. A lot of the discussion this year has been about the fiscal impacts of competing death penalty measures. Those who want to repeal the death penalty say the system is broken and can’t be fixed, and that it has become overly expensive. Those in favor of reform of the death penalty believe that housing heinous criminals for the rest of their lives is what’s too expensive. Asking taxpayers to clothe, house, feed, guard and provide healthcare to the nearly 750 convicts currently on death row will clearly cost more money than fixing the system.

But while the fiscal debate around the death penalty is important, for me, the issue at hand is not dollars and cents, but justice.

Whatever your feelings are toward the death penalty, one thing most people will never know is the pain experienced when a family member, or in my case, family members are brutally tortured and murdered. They’ll never experience the heartache, the anger, or the frustration with our criminal justice system. I hope no one has to experience the pain I’ve been through, yet I live with these emotions every day and have done so for more than 30 years.

In 1984 my mother, sister and two nephews were cold-heartedly shot to death. The killer, an 18-year-old gang member named Tiqueon Cox walked through my mother’s house and shot each member of my family. My mother sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee and was shot in the head. My sister was shot to death while she slept and my two nephews, aged 8 and 12 years, were shot while they slept. The triggerman was paid to commit murder. In a cruel twist of fate, my family was not the intended target…they were all murdered by mistake when Tiqueon went to the wrong house.

Tiqueon was sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. He’s been sitting on death row for 30 years and has exhausted all of his appeals at both the state and federal level. This man is one of the worst of the worst, yet he still sits on death row, waiting for an execution date, and 30 years later, I continue to wait for justice to be served. California’s death penalty needs to remain intact to deal with criminals like Cox, but it needs to be reformed.

One ballot measure that we must vote no on is Proposition 62. This measure would abolish the death penalty and give these heinous criminals life in prison without parole. Repealing the death penalty does nothing to stop these hardened criminals. In fact, Tiqueon Cox, while on death row, has continued to operate as a shot caller; being classified as the most dangerous man on death row. In 2001, he attempted a violent takeover of the Super Max Adjustment Center at San Quentin. His goal was not to escape but to kill as many guards as possible. He is also responsible for repeated assaults on fellow inmates and correctional officers.

A competing proposition, Proposition 66, will finally provide justice to families. Through Proposition 66, Californians can ensure the death penalty in California not on stays in place but actually works.  Proposition 66 was written by the most experienced legal experts on the death penalty. It was written to ensure due process and to balance the rights of all involved—defendants, victims and their families. Proposition 66 will streamline the system to ensure criminals sentenced to death will not wait years simply to have an appellate attorney appointed.  It will limit unnecessary and repetitive delays in state court to 5 years.  While there are no innocent people on California’s death row, Prop 66 will ensure due process by never limiting claims of actual innocence.  In addition, it would ensure convicts on death row lose special privileges, requiring them to work in prison and use their earnings to pay restitution to victims’ families. Proposition 66 will expand the pool of qualified lawyers to deal with these cases, and the trial courts that handled the death penalty trials in the first place and know them best will handle the initial appeals.  The overall changes to the death penalty system, as laid out by Proposition 66, are simple fixes that will reform the death penalty and fix what’s broken.

Today, California’s death row is filled with killers like Rex Krebs who abducted and murdered two women and Charles Ng who was convicted of murdering 11 people and most likely murdered up to 25 people. Although sentenced to death years ago, they each have been sitting on death row for decades. My family and other families who have suffered through the actions of heinous killers like Cox, Krebs and Ng want and deserve justice.

California’s death row inmates have murdered over 1000 victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured.  They are serial killers, cop killers, child killers and rape/torture murderers.

Those in favor of abolishing the death penalty may call the death penalty cruel and unusual but I would argue that these killers will have it easy – they will be executed by lethal injection.  They will simply fall asleep.

Cruel and unusual is what the victims suffered through and what my family and others like mine suffer through daily.

I urge a no vote on Proposition 62 and yes on Proposition 66 to ensure the worst of the worst killers receive the strongest sentence. A yes on Prop 66 brings closure to families while saving California taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

Justice isn’t gentle. Justice isn’t easy.  But justice denied is not justice.

Alexander is former NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles.


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