LWOP After Death

September 13, 2016

Yes, I would like to see Prop 62, the Justice that Works Act, passed this 08 November 2016. Prop 62 will eradicate capital punishment in California. All death sentences will be converted to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). The appeals process will remain an option to challenge wrongful convictions. This is our last chance to abolish capital punishment in California at the ballot box.

There are innocent people languishing in California’s golden gulag- actually innocent, wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, victims of a dysfunctional system. “The state of California may be about to execute an innocent man,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Fletcher might have been describing my situation, but in this case he was speaking of Kevin Cooper. LWOP will halt the next execution of an innocent person. Capital punishment is perfectly final yet fatally flawed.

In November of 2012 a Yes vote on Prop 34, the Savings Accountability and Full Enforcement Act, would have abolished capital punishment in California permanently. Prop 34 failed by a narrow 52%-48% split. We missed that opportunity. Lessons were learned; this is our time.

We can’t get the years back, but at least leave us a semblance of life. As an abolitionist I stand against government sponsored executions, strapped in a death chamber or in our streets at the hands of corrupt police. If all lives really do matter let us abolish capital punishment. Imagine a world where the government does not kill it’s people. I also believe other states will follow our lead. This momentous proposition has global ramifications. This is the right step along our human rights struggle.

The people of California voted in the current death penalty, Prop 7, on November 7th, 1978. It’s past time to vote it out. California will be the first state to abolish capital punishment at the ballot box. Vote Yes on Prop 62 if you want to start spending more on educating our youth than on the prison-industrial complex. Yes on 62 if you’re truly pro-life and anti-death. Yes on 62.

Replacing the death penalty with LWOP takes state-sponsored lynching off the table. Prop 62 will preserve human life. Death is final. With life possibilities remain. California has the largest death-row population in the nation, hovering at 750 people. Not much of a life versus no life at all–choose life every time. Once we stop barbaric executions, we can join the struggle to abolish LWOP, sometimes referred to as ‘the other death penalty.’

Included on the ballot will be Prop 66, the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act. This proposition will gut constitutional safeguards while rushing through state-sponsored torturous lynchings. If we allow this killing machine to resuscitate under Prop 66, prepare for the quick human-assembly-line draconian executions of the 750-and-counting death-row prisoners. We are battling to put an end to the mindset that would execute an innocent person. They race towards death while dilatorily walking to life. Conscious California voters will not slip into this insanity of legal lynching. Not this time.

Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in his concurring opinion in Furman v. Georgia, the case that abolished the death penalty in the United States in 1972, “If people were familiar with the truth about the death penalty they would ant to abolish it.”

In this election we will literally be voting for life— Prop 62, the Justice that Works Act, and death– Prop 66, the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act. One of these propositions will surely pass. If both pass, the one with the most votes will become law. We need every vote, your vote. Inspire someone to register and vote who otherwise wouldn’t. Vote for those of us without a voice.

The American Law Institute (ALI) has over 4,000 members consisting of judges, law professors and lawyers- America’s preeminent legal minds. The ALI drafted the model statute for the death penalty 56 years ago to ensure a fair death sentence. Even though their model statute for the death penalty is being practiced today, seven years ago the ALI withdrew their support from the very law they created. Before you finalize your position on capital punishment consider the words of the ALI. The ALI stated that the system they fashioned does not work and cannot be fixed. They all further determined that we cannot devise a death penalty system that will ensure fairness in process or outcome or even that innocent people will not be executed.

We are fighting to abolish capital punishment because it is ethically, socially, and even economically reprehensible. No one has the right to murder, including the government. Our justice system is riddled with mistakes, corruption and racism. No space for mistakes, corruption or racism. It is not humane for the government to murder prisoners on death row. The criminal justice system must be absolutely faultless in all respects of litigation and law prior to state-sponsored lynchings. Nothing concerning humankind has ever been flawless.

The influence of passion and prejudice manipulated by corruption in high places are the main ingredients to ensure an innocent person’s death sentence. I have been held captive at San Quentin, California’s death row for over ten years. Unity in our common cause is essential. I will continue the ardent struggle from the inside out as you protest the abolition of the death penalty from the outside in. We will intersect in success. VOTE YES ON PROP 62 AND NO ON PROP 66.

In Solidarity,

Donald Ray Young

P.O. Box E-78474

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974