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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Berkeley City Council Votes to Adopt Resolution for an End to Death Sentences in Alameda County

Last week we met with aides to two Austin City Council members and asked them to help us pass a death penalty resolution, either a moratorium or abolition resolution.

In California, there is an effort to get resolutions passed that would direct DAs not to seek death sentences. On Dec 8, the Berkeley City Council voted to adopt a Resolution for an End to Death Sentences in Alameda County. The resolution calls on the District Attorney to stop pursuing the death penalty and to focus instead on investing public resources in solving homicides, preventing violence, and expanding public safety programs.

This is a different strategy than ours in that the resolution urges the local Alameda DA not to seek death sentences, instead of urging the state legislature to adopt either a moratorium or abolition. We like that strategy and congratulate the people who worked for this success, although it might be a little too advanced for Texas.

The campaign is led by the Alameda County Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, which has a nice website.

Here is the press release announcing the victory.

This strategy probably wouldn't work in Texas, since California is somewhat more progressive than Texas on this issue. Last Spring in Travis County there was an election for DA, but only one candidate took the position of saying he would never seek any death sentences. He lost, but mainly because of a lack of funding to get his message out. The real disappointment was that none of the other three candidates would commit to taking the death penalty off the table permanently, which is a position that would be embraced by Austin voters if the Travis County DA would make the effort to educate the community on the disadvantages of seeking death sentences and the advantages of investing more public resources in solving homicides, preventing violence, and expanding public safety programs.

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