I am William A. Noguera, and this piece is entitled “The Truth About The Death Penalty.”
I’m calling from Death Row at San Quentin Prison. Mention the death penalty, and people usually take sides: those for it, and those against it. Each group will give you answers about why they believe they’re right and the other side is wrong.
Those for it will explain the death penalty is necessary, because those who murder must pay the ultimate penalty for their actions. Those against it will explain that murder, whether a criminal does it or the state, is still murder. Each side will go on and on about their reasoning and position.
Unfortunately, neither side has it right, and both are not looking at the bigger picture. And that’s exactly what politicians want. The less you know about the death penalty, the better, because it’s easier to manipulate you.
Here are some real truths. The death penalty in California is an expensive smokescreen used by politicians who want you to believe they’re hard on crime, but nothing could be further from the truth and they know it. Granted, it sounds great when a district attorney states “We’re seeking the death penalty against the defendant, he is an animal, killer. He deserves to die for his crimes.”
First, let’s look at the facts. Since 1967, 13 men have been executed. That’s less than a quarter of a percent of the more than 1600 people sentenced to death. This means that more than 800 men condemned to die have died of old age, disease, have killed themselves, were murdered here, or their sentence was overturned, because here’s where the expense comes into effect.
As soon as the death penalty is on the table, the defendant gets a death-qualified defense teams be paid for by you, the taxpayer. That means lawyers, investigators, experts, you name it, they get it. The trial, of course, costs 10 times more than a regular trial. At the end of it, if you’re found guilty, another trial begins, a penalty phase. That trial also requires lawyers, investigators, experts. If this special jury then gives them the death penalty, you, the taxpayer, has just given that defendant a new appeal team of lawyers, investigators, experts to save his life. He will get a single-man cell, breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed. He’s also a celebrity, and he will never be executed.
What he’s truly been sentenced to is life without the possibly of parole. The only difference is, by calling the death penalty, you are paying over a hundred thousand dollars a year to protect him and his interests. Had you given him a life to begin with, he’d still do life without the possibility of parole and never get out. The difference is you wouldn’t be paying for a lie. I am William A. Noguera, and that’s a bit of truth.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.