/>California is poised to examine the many flaws in our death penalty system. The ACLU will present new evidence about the unfairness and arbitrariness of who is sentenced to death at a series of official state hearings starting January 10 in Sacramento. Issues include:
- Racial and geographic disparities in who is sentenced to death
- High costs of death penalty compared to life in prison
- Under-funding of defense counsel for poor defendants
- Juries that do not represent the community
The death penalty nationwide is plagued by such problems. New Jersey ended its death penalty in December 2007 because of its expense and unfairness, sparking momentum for change across the U.S.
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice was created by the California Senate in 2004 to recommend reforms to make California's criminal justice system "just, fair and accurate." The Commission includes experts from all sides of the justice system: prosecutors, sheriffs, and police chiefs, sit with defense attorneys, judges and citizens.
Last year, the Commission endorsed three state bills to help end wrongful convictions of innocent people. The bills would have reduced false confessions, stopped abuse of informant testimony, and improved eyewitness identifications. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed all three bills.
The hearings continue February 20 in Los Angeles.