By Marc Klaas
My daughter Polly’s killer currently resides on California’s death row. On March 13, 2019, at Governor Newsom’s request, I drove 90-miles to the Capitol for a meeting on crime victim equity. Before the meeting ended the Governor informed me, and the others present, that he was going to declare a death penalty moratorium that would extend through the end of his term. This, even though candidate Newsom announced that he would follow the death penalty law and the will of the people, who have historically supported California’s death penalty.
I drove home from the Capitol pinballing between rage and bewilderment. I wondered, “Who does that? Who asks the father of a murdered child to drive an hour and a half to tell him that he gave the gift of life to her rapist and killer?”
Among other sketchy and misleading talking points, the Governor justified the moratorium on his “Reluctance to execute hundreds and hundreds of human beings, knowing that as many as 30-death row inmates are innocent.” Nobody ever suggested that he would have to carry out daily executions, and even his predecessor, who opposes the death penalty, stated definitively that “There are no innocent inmates on California’s death row.”
Let’s be clear: California’s condemned inmates have murdered more than 1,000 people, including 229 children and 43 police officers. They are mass shooters, spree killers, cop killers and serial killers. They are psychopaths and sadists who rape, torture, and murder their victims: even little girls!
When Polly was kidnapped from a slumber party in her own home on Oct. 1, 1993, crime was America’s number-one issue. Violent and property crime were epidemic. Parents didn’t let their kids go outside alone. Women were afraid to walk alone at night. Our cities and streets were not safe.
When we discovered the truth about Polly’s tragedy I started working with individuals, politicians, and other stakeholders to pass laws that would return power to the people and hold criminals accountable. In close order California passed a 3-strikes law that mandated prison enhancements for repeat offenders, President Clinton signed Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that put 1,000,000 cops on the streets, promoted criminal accountability, and provided $6.5 billion for prevention programs for at risk youth.
Within a few years we had Megan’s Law, the Amber Alert, and Truth in Sentencing. California passed Marsy’s Law, providing a constitutionally mandated bill of rights to crime victims. By 2003, we had safe streets. Violent and property crime had been cut in half in California and in America.
However, throughout the last decade Governor Newsom and his predecessor effectively nullified everything that was achieved. 3-strikes has been gutted, truth in sentencing has been eliminated, and certain crimes have been downgraded and recategorized.
At the press conference announcing the death penalty moratorium Governor Newsom said, “To the victims, we owe you, and we need to do more and to do better.”
Who promises to do better for crime victims, and then follows up by offering early release to 76,000 existing prisoners, including 63,00 serving time for violent crime and at least 20,000 prisoners serving life sentences?
Homicide and property crimes are spiking in California:
- Homicide in CA increased 31% between 2019-2020
- Homicide in LA County increased 34% between 2019-2020 and is up another 186% so far this year.
- Homicide in Oakland has increased 52% over the same time period last year.
- Homicide in the Bay Area’s 15 largest cities has increased by 35% over the same time period last year
- In CA car thefts are up by 19.6%, and commercial burglaries have risen by about 26%.
- Residential burglaries in San Francisco have increased by 78%
- Property crime in San Francisco is so out of control that Walgreens has closed 17 stores, and Target is closing its stores early.
I call into question the integrity and character of a Governor who kneecaps the father of a murdered child as he promises to do more for crime victims, only to arrange the early release of tens of thousands of violent criminals as crime surges in California. You may accuse me of cherry-picking isolated incidents, but you’d be wrong. Gavin Newsom has a storied history of obscuring deeds with words and offering apologies for morally challenged decisions.
This is not a partisan issue. I am a lifelong Democrat who proudly voted for President Biden. I’m asking you to join me in voting to recall Governor Newsom on Sept. 14.