Don Heller: A California Republican against death penalty
By Don Heller, Columnist
I have been a Republican for many years. I wrote the ballot initiative that reinstated the death penalty in California in 1978. I believe those who commit willful and intentional murder should be locked up and severely punished in the interest of public safety.
I made a terrible mistake 33 years ago, but it is one that can be corrected. People are working hard to give voters the opportunity in the next election to replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole. If given that chance, I call upon all Californians to join me in voting yes to abolish capital punishment.
I have not gone soft on crime. I believe that public safety is one of the primary purposes of a government predicated on the rule of law.
Justice should be swift and certain.
But the death penalty initiative that I drafted was drawn up without fiscal study, input from others, or committee hearings. I made sure that the legal structure that I created would meet tough constitutional standards and checked my work against relevant U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence. But there was none of the give and take envisioned by our forefathers when they created the legislative process more than 200 years ago. Essentially, I wrote alone and the fiscal impact was never considered by the sponsors or myself.