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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 in other high security prisons, adding up to more than $63 million each year. A shift from death sentences to permanent imprisonment means significant savings and eliminates the risk of executing the innocent. That’s why a growing number of states are choosing permanent imprisonment over the death penalty. In fact, in 2009, the number of new death sentences nationwide reached the lowest level (PDF) since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

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…

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…

At the Tipping Point...

By Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California at 5:22pm
This really shows that we have reached the tipping point on the death penalty in America, and it's not just in the state capitols. Last year, for the first time in 30 years, more people preferred the sentence of life without parole than the death penalty.…

"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…

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…

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…

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