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CAMPAIGN MEMO FROM ROBIN SWANSON
RE: KAMALA HARRIS' NEW (AND IMPROVED FOR A STATEWIDE ELECTION) DEATH PENALTY POSITION - REALLY?
Yesterday, in an interview with the Sacramento Bee editorial board, Kamala Harris unveiled her new and improved (for a statewide campaign anyway) position on the death penalty. After years of refusing to pursue the death penalty as District Attorney in San Francisco, even against the most hardened criminals and cop-killers, Kamala Harris now says, "I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but I will follow the law." [Sacramento Bee, Capitol Alert, 3/16/10]
Let's take a look at Kamala Harris' record on the death penalty.
In her inauguration speech as San Francisco District Attorney in January 2004, Harris vowed, 'I will never charge the death penalty." [AP, 2/07/04; San Francisco District Attorney press release, 1/08/04]
Not long after that, San Francisco Police Officer Isaac Espinoza was gunned down in cold blood by a criminal with an AK-47. Kamala Harris refused to pursue the death penalty, even though murdering a police officer is a "special circumstance" crime in the State of California. In fact, the Attorney General at the time said he would have pursued the death penalty in the case.
In 2007, Edwin Ramos, an illegal immigrant and gang member, murdered a father and two sons in cold blood. Harris refused to seek the death penalty in this case.
Also in 2007, Harris refused to seek the death penalty against a man who raped and stabbed a woman in her home. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, because of District Attorney Kamala Harris' opposition to capital punishment." [San Francisco Chronicle, 8/28/07]
Is this a record of "following the law"?
Harris' rhetoric and record of nearly a decade prove her to be out of the mainstream of Californians and even Democrats when it comes to the death penalty. But now that Harris is running for Attorney General in a state where the majority of voters support the death penalty, she says she would follow the law.
Robin Swanson directs communications for the Kelly campaign
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Yes, actually that is following the law. The law gives every DA full discretion to decide whether to seek the death penalty or not. DA Scully just decide not to seek the death penalty in a case where a prison guard was killed--that's her choice. In fact, the man who killed Officer Espinoza was only convicted of second degree murder and not eligible for the death penalty. You might disagree with her choices, but the law says they are her choices to make.
This article makes me want to vote for Kamala Harris. If I wanted my candidates to be boasting about how many of the state's citizens they intend to kill, I'd move to Texas.
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