ATTN CA Voters: Vote No On Prop. 9
Jenny Price is a crime victim. Her brother was murdered. It is understandable that she feels no good will for the murderer. Yet she opposes California's Prop. 9, the Victims Bill of Rights Act of 2008.
It would restrict offenders' rights from arrest to imprisonment in myriad ways. For example, it reduces the number of parole hearings inmates are entitled to and does away with state-provided lawyers for parole violators. What disturbs me most, however, is that prosecutors would be required to consider the opinions of victims' relatives on charges, sentencing and parole. The measure also would remove all limits on the number of family members who could speak at sentencing and parole hearings.
Opponents of Proposition 9 call it unnecessary (California has a victims' bill of rights, but it's not in the Constitution), expensive to enforce and vulnerable to challenges. They should be more direct: It is unjust.
In remarkably clear terms, Price explains the unfairness of a victim's "right" to influence sentencing: [more ...]
Victims' rights laws, in general, smell of revenge, which the legal system should not condone. And I can affirm that when we ask families to be involved in decisions on punishment, we legalize revenge. ...
If no punishment can bring back the person I loved, then no punishment could ever be enough. I do not care about motive, mental state, penance or rehabilitation when it comes to my brother's killer -- things the legal system rightly takes into account. So if you want justice and fairness in the process, don't ask me or the rest of my family to weigh in. Punishment for murder should not depend on how angry and bereft survivors are, or how beloved the victim was. It should not be proportional to the size of the victim's family, or to how many family members are willing to go to court or a parole hearing, or to how long they are willing to keep going to hearings. ...
We don't honor the people we lost by committing injustice in their names.I am not speaking up for murderers. I am speaking up for me, and for families of murder victims. I am speaking up for my brother, David, who died on Nov. 4, 2000. On this Nov. 4, I hope the voters will choose not to dishonor his memory.
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