Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CALIFORNIA: Just In! Hearing Draws Many!

From Sacramento Bee A teacher urges money for education NOT executions

This story is taken from Sacbee / Latest News / E-mail Alerts -- Breaking News

Death penalty hearing draws many opposed to capital punishment Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2009 (please also keep watching Death Penalty Watch!)

The state hearing on new procedures for the death penalty got under way this morning in Sacramento with about 120 people gathered in a state auditorium, many of them there expressly to oppose capital punishment.

They wore T-shirts, carried signs with slogans such as "Execute Justice, Not People," "The Death Penalty is Killing California's Budget," " Money for Education, Not Executions."

The first speaker, Donna Doolin-Larsen, said her son Keith is on death row at San Quentin. Facing the prospect of his execution is "terribly painful and dehumanizing," she testified.

She described her son as "factually innocent," and said the death penalty "has impacted me and my family in many ways."

"I visualize in my nightmares the moment when I may have to witness Keith entering the death chamber, being strapped to the death gurney, seeing the death catheter inserted into his vein for the death poison to be administered, hearing Keith's last dying words, and thinking, 'Save my son,'" she said.

Keith Zon Doolin was convicted in 1996 and sent to California's death row for shooting six prostitutes in Fresno County, two fatally.

Today's hearing is expected to continue until 3 p.m. at the Department of Health Services Building, 1500 Capitol Ave.

Corrections officials are expecting so many speakers that they have limited each to three minutes.

Clergy, doctors and lawyers rose to speak out about their belief that the death penalty is immoral but not all of the speakers opposed capital punishment.

John Mancino, vice president of a group called the American Civil Responsibilities Union, said there have been 108,000 murders in California since 1963. He said there have been only 14 executions since then.

He added that claims that inmates may suffer pain during the lethal injection process are a "smokescreen" aimed at ending capital punishment.

"If you have even been anesthetized for a tonsillectomy you don't feel a thing," said Mancino, whose group has led the successful effort to oust Chief Justice Rose Bird in 1986 because of her opposition to the death penalty.

The public comment is designed to provide input on a new series of regulations governing how lethal injection is administered in California.

The death penalty has been on hold in California since 2006 because of a series of legal challenges that may take years to resolve.

Public Comments: here

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