In our final episode before Election Day, we talk about the death penalty, which California voters will have a chance to end this year or reform.
Proposition 62 would end the death penalty in California. Proposition 66 would try to speed up appeals of death penalty verdicts, which could result in quicker executions or exonerations. (If both pass, the one with the most votes takes effect.)
First Sara Libby and I talk with Mike and Penny Moreau, whose son Tim was murdered in Oregon in 1990. They discuss that horrible case and the moral dilemma they faced before they cast their votes this year on the two death penalty measures. On the one hand, philosophically, they think it’s wrong to kill somebody else. On the other, they have seen the criminal justice system up close and found there is some value in the death penalty.
They talk about a practical benefit of the death penalty: It can provide leverage for prosecutors. Their son’s killers took plea deals to avoid a death penalty trial. As part of those deals, they agreed to help authorities look for Tim’s body, which they had buried in the woods. (They were unsuccessful; Tim has not yet been found.)
“That’s when we got interested in what impact hanging over someone’s head the threat of a death penalty – how it can help victims find out what happened,” Mike Moreau said.
The Moreaus have also shepherded other parents of murdered children through the justice system and they’ve seen people with life sentences get out of jail. Before they’d vote to end the death penalty, they said they want to make sure the justice system doesn’t ignore victims.
We also talk with Kelly Davis, a freelance journalist who focuses on criminal justice issues. She walks us through some of the other policy implications of both death penalty ballot measures.
To end on a lighter note, we also talked about our favorite things from the week.
Libby enjoyed the many Vine videos people reposted after the video-sharing service announced it would discontinue its mobile phone app, effectively ending the service. Particular favorites include this and this.
I enjoyed Saturday Night Live’s “Black Jeopardy” skit because it highlighted the similarities between black and white working class Americans – their shared “disempowerment, suspicion of authority, and working-class identity,” as Jamelle Bouie at Slate put it – without papering over fundamental disagreements that still divide us.
Unlike presidential debates that are watched by millions, local political debates are rarely televised, yet they offer some of the only chances for voters to hear city and county candidates who will have direct say over so much of their lives.
This week we talk about those debates.
Local debates happen more than you’d think. Podcast co-host Sara Libby, for instance, moderated a city attorney debate last Monday between Mara Elliott and Robert Hickey. Then Hickey and Elliott met again two days later for another candidate forum in City Heights.
As a result, there’s a debate circuit that forms, as our colleague and frequent debate host Andrew Keatts explains. Opposing candidates who see each other night after night become familiar with each other’s talking points and maintain collegial bonds.
Unless they don’t: Keatts talks about one of the wilder local debates he’s hosted, our Politifest debate over a ballot measure that will change city election law.
We also talk about the U.S. Senate “dabate” between state Attorney General Kamela Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and share other observations about the history of debating in San Diego.
Andy’s favorite thing is the new HBO series “Westworld.”
My favorite thing is normal people who far outnumber reporters even though reporters often end up fetishizing working-class Americans, like Ken Bone, the accidental star of the recent presidential debate.
Sara’s is Sutter Brown, California’s first dog, as well as a touching Sacramento Bee editorial on mortality and our pets.
Those of you who were able to attend our Politifest presentation on the 17 state ballot measures not only got to learn about the ins and outs of the many complex measures facing California voters, you also got to witness our strong hat game.
We've recreated that presentation here on the latest San Diego Decides episode — unfortunately, you'll just have to imagine us wearing weird hats as you listen.
Some of the measures are relatively straightforward: One legalizes pot, for example. Another abolishes the death penalty. Others are quite tricky. Prop. 65, in fact, exists almost solely to confuse voters. That's the one that is sort of, kind of, about banning plastic bags, but will only become law if Prop. 67 — the actual plastic bag ban — passes, and Prop. 65 passes as well but with more votes. Told you it was confusing.
We run down all 17 ballot propositions in this episode, so get comfy, take notes and godspeed. And if you need some insight on the other huge slate of measures you'll weigh in on — the local San Diego measures — check out this handy guide.