Thursday, July 2, 2009

California Testimony - Part 3

More California testimony; see Tuesday's post for more information.

From Walt Everett:

... As a United Methodist Minister, I am concerned that these proposed regulations deny a condemned inmate full access to their chosen religious advisors at a time when an individual is arguably most in need of this kind of support. In particular, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that, under the proposed regulations, the state chaplain would be required to disclose to the prison warden the contents of private conversations with the condemned inmate. This violation of the clergy-penitent relationship is contrary to the most basic ethical obligations of clergy, and may violate state law as well. I am also disturbed by the proposed prohibition against the spiritual advisor’s being allowed into the execution chamber to provide support to the inmate as his life is being taken. Other states, such as Texas, have long permitted the spiritual advisor to be present in the execution chamber, and I cannot see why it is necessary for California to prohibit this.

From Vicki Schieber:

I recently served as a member of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, and from this experience I have learned that it is essential to understand exactly what is involved in the application of the death penalty in order to make informed decisions about it. I am concerned that the full fiscal impact of California’s proposed lethal injection regulations is not being calculated or disclosed. The public has a right to know exactly how much it will cost taxpayers to carry out executions using lethal injection at San Quentin prison in the way that the regulations propose. Similarly, I believe that the public – by which I mean all of us in whose name executions are carried out – has the right to know exactly what is being done when someone is put to death by lethal injection. I am concerned that the proposed regulations unduly limit media access to the execution process and make it impossible for the full story to be reported.

Although comments about the death penalty most often focus on how the process affects the perpetrator of a crime, my focus is on how the death penalty affects victims’ families. The Maryland Commission concluded by a vote of 20-1 that the effects of capital cases are more detrimental to victims’ families than those that involve a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. This is something that I understand firsthand. ...

and from Bud Welch:

What victims’ families are led to believe about the death penalty is not always what turns out to be true. I am concerned that the proposed lethal injection regulations in California limit the media’s access more than is necessary, and so deprive all of us of the right to know exactly what is being done in our names. Media witnesses should be allowed to view the entire lethal injection process, including the preparation that occurs in the Infusion Control Room, and should be allowed to hear what is happening in the execution chamber. My point is that this needs to be a transparent process, if it is to happen at all.

I have serious concerns about these proposed regulations, and I do not want to see them implemented as they are currently drafted. I am expressing these concerns both as the father of an Oklahoma City bombing victim and as President of the Board of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, an organization of victims’ family members all across the nation (including California) who have experienced the horror of losing a family member to murder and who do not support the death penalty.

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