SF Cop Killer

In San Francisco we have a situation in which a fine young police officer was gunned down and murdered recently. Officer Isaac Espinoza, 29, arrived on the scene with his partner to question a 21-year-old gang member. Apparently afraid the police might say something about his AK-47, the gang member without warning sprayed some 50 rounds at the officers, murdering Espinoza with three shots.

Assuming a first-degree conviction, if ever there was a candidate for the death penalty, this senseless foul act deserves the death penalty.

The problem is that the citizens of San Francisco elected District Attorney Kamala Harris, who campaigned on a platform promise to never prosecute for the death penalty. The DA’s office is preparing charges which would ask for life imprisonment.

Groups and individuals asking Harris to reconsider her position include Sens. Feinstein and Boxer, state Attorney General Lockyer, the Police Officer’s Association, and newly appointed SF Police Chief Heather Fong.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has reaffirmed that Harris was elected on a no-death-penalty platform, and he’s not interfering with that.

When a police officer falls, we are all attacked and we are all wounded. We tender our deepest sympathy and regrets to the Espinoza family.

Please see our recent post “Death Penalty”. We sympathize strongly with those who would push for the death penalty in this case, but we have an even bigger problem with the way it has been presented to the public.
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Death Penalty

Topics unpopular: my position on the death penalty is that it’s a moral option in a free democratic society. My reason for having to make this statement now will become apparent when I post my next entry, “SF Cop Killer”.

Most people will offer a strong, reflexive, ingrained opinion for or against the death penalty — based on gut feeling and/or arguments with which I usually have little quarrel. Far from not having taken a stand on this either way, I have strong convictions for both sides.

I don’t feel guilty about the inconsistency, and you shouldn’t either. The contradiction is not of our making. There are severe conflicts in the law, and the way in which it is applied in individual trials appears too often to be flawed and subject to processes that fall far short of blind impartial justice. I don’t have control over that and am not responsible for reconciling the inconsistencies of society.

On the one hand, I generally have no problem with the death penalty for a jury conviction for first degree murder. People often detest arguments that incarcerating inredeemably incorrigable killers for the rest of their life is expensive and a waste of the taxpayer’s money. I’m not one of those people.

On the other, we see in the newspapers too many documented cases of individuals convicted and sentenced to death or life imprisonment, who, after any number of years ranging up to the better part of a human lifetime, are found to have been wrongfully convicted. To kill even one innocent man to punish ten others is morally wrong.
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