Marin County, CA Resolution Regarding a Moratorium on the Death Penalty

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Marin County, CA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 12/10/02

Vote: Unanimous

Source File:



WHEREAS, 612 men and women currently await capital execution in the State of California; and

WHEREAS, there is strong evidence that the death penalty has been applied unfairly across the United States and in California; and at times (by virtue of recently emerging technologies including DNA testing and comparison) even based on wrongful convictions; and

WHEREAS, since 1973, 102 people in 25 states have been released from prison with evidence of innocence, three of whom were on California’s death row; and the rate of exoneration has been accelerating in recent years; and

WHEREAS, around the nation thirteen more inmates, while not exonerated completely, have also been released from prison with substantial evidence of innocence, and five others had their death sentences commuted to life in prison because of doubts about their guilt; and

WHEREAS, a June 2000 Field poll indicated that 73% of Californians favor an immediate halt to executions in the form of a moratorium while the reliability and fairness of the death penalty is studied; and

WHEREAS, the American Bar Association has called for a moratorium on executions and the Governor of Illinois, George Ryan, enacted a moratorium in 2000 after 13 condemned individuals were exonerated and released from death row; and, in May, 2002, Maryland Governor Parris Glendening declared a moratorium on all executions pending the results of his study on racial bias conducted at the University of Maryland; and, one of the largest nationally organized victims’ rights groups, Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation, has called for abolition of the death penalty as a way of breaking the cycle of violence; and, over 2,500 organizations (over 365 in California), local governments, state legislatures, (including the states of Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington) and the California Jurisdictions of Santa Clara County, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, have called for or have pending legislation calling for a moratorium on executions based on concerns of racial and economic discrimination, geographic disparities in sentencing, and the risk of executing innocent people and the mentally impaired; and

WHEREAS, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee of the California Legislature estimated in 1988 that elimination of the death penalty would result in a net savings to government (defense and prosecution fees, court costs, etc.) of $15-million dollars per execution – money that could be better spent on crime prevention measures; and

WHEREAS, the only location in California where death penalty executions take place is at San Quentin Prison in Marin County.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Marin County Board of Supervisors calls for a moratorium on executions in California because we believe: 1) there is a risk of executing innocent persons; 2) the application of the death penalty is discriminatory on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, geography, economic status and access to superior legal resources.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Marin County Board of Supervisors urges Governor Gray Davis to declare a moratorium on executions while California’s death penalty procedures are reviewed and evaluated.