Blog of Rights

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"I've Got a Secret Mission for You."

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 4:22pm
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) finally released 989 pages of heavily redacted records to the ACLU of Northern California revealing how it acquired one of the drugs needed for executions. The documents literally mention a "secret mission" to get the drugs. They show the expense and incredible lengths California government officials were willing go to in order to carry out executions — and to keep it all secret.

Time for California to Catch Up with the Death Penalty Decline

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 2:01pm

Most of the country seems to be getting it: The death penalty is expensive and risky. The expense to execute a prisoner is staggering: in California, the cost of death row housing alone is $90,000 more per year, per inmate (PDF) compared to housing…

A Tale of Two District Attorneys

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 2:14pm

(A version of this post originally appeared on California Progress Report.)

Robertson County, Texas, November, 2000. A 24-year-old single mother of four, Regina Kelly, is caught up in a drug sweep triggered by the uncorroborated word of…

Need to Trim Corrections Spending, Governor? Stop Wasting Money on the Death Penalty!

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 10:32am

If Gov. Schwarzenegger thinks he can cut $3.5 billion from state spending on corrections, he is being unrealistic and impractical.

In his state of the state address Wednesday, Gov. Schwarzenegger promised to restore the California dream by…

Wake Up CA Assembly! Who are You Punishing with this Prison Budget?

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 2:46pm

I don't know what they're drinking in the assembly in Sacramento, but it's not the coffee we've been offering. Assembly members stumbled out of the chamber early Friday morning without voting on a bill that would reduce prison spending; a bill that…

Wake Up California: It’s Time to Get Real About Criminal Justice Reform

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 5:54pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

The "Prison Population and Budget Reduction Package" proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is like a drunk person walking home from a bar — it knows where…

Day of Action to End the Death Penalty

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 3:37pm

(Cross-posted on Daily Kos and Calitics.)

Today, for the first time ever, Californians will have the chance to weigh in on the state’s broken death penalty system. Victims, clergy, legal experts, wrongfully convicted individuals and…

A Better Way to Balance the Budget—and Protect Public Safety

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 12:31pm

A series of common sense, waste-cutting proposals would address two of California's biggest problems: our overburdened, dysfunctional corrections system, and the ever increasing multibillion dollar deficit. Implementing these proposals would save…

Save $1 Billion in Five Years — End the Death Penalty in California

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 4:52pm

In the market for a prime piece of real estate? Governor Schwarzenegger has the deal for you! Facing a $21.3 Billion budget deficit in California, Schwarzenegger has offered to sell state-owned property to make up the difference. The crown jewel…

New Mexico Takes a Bold Step in the Right Direction, the Rest of Us Should Follow

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 5:57pm

Last Wednesday, in a significant development in the national trend away from the death penalty, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation that replaces the death penalty with permanent imprisonment in New Mexico. Gov. Richardson had been a life-long supporter of the death penalty, but was willing to reconsider in light of new facts and 30 years of problems with the death penalty. New Mexico became the 15th state without the death penalty, and the first in the continental western U.S.

New Mexico isn't the only state taking another look at the death penalty. Bills to repeal, study or place a moratorium on executions are being considered in seven other states: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. Why now? The nation's economic crisis has finally focused policy makers' attention on the question, is the death penalty really worth the costs?

In California, we're setting new records for the unprecedented magnitude of our death row spending while our state budget crisis continues to worsen. California should serve as an unfortunate example of what not do, and how bad it can get.

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