Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DA Michael Ramos - Don’t abolish death penalty, make the system work

Don’t abolish death penalty, make the system work: Michael A. Ramos

By Michael A. Ramos

Posted: 08/23/16, 8:37 AM PDT | Updated: 4 days ago 


 In this Oct. 30, 2015 file photo, Marc Klaas, far left at podium, father of Polly Klaas, who was kidnapped and slain in 1993; Scott Jones, Sacramento County sheriff; L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Sheriff Jim McDonnel join other victims' rights advocates, community leaders, and elected officials to announce efforts to place an initiative on the 2016 ballot to streamline the death penalty in California. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Seven hundred forty-three criminals sit on California’s death row. Prisoners like Randy Kraft who sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered 16 young men between 1972-1983 or Dennis Stanworth, who was convicted of raping and murdering two girls and was sentenced to death in 1966 for the heinous crimes he committed.

California’s Supreme Court set aside Stanworth’s death sentence in 1972 after the California Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional. So, instead they gave this brutal killer life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1990, he was paroled and by 2013 he killed again — this time his elderly mother.

And who could forget Richard Allen Davis? A career criminal who was three months out of prison and “rehabilitated” only to end up raping and killing 12-year-old Polly Klaas. Davis has now been sitting on death row for 17 years — at taxpayer’s expense.

Inmates on California’s death row include notorious serial killers, cop killers, child killers and rape/torture murderers. Many of these individuals have been on death row since the 1980s and have used endless appeals, spread out over years and years to delay justice. Families of murder victims should not have to wait decades for justice. Hundreds of killers have sat on death row for more than 20 years forcing taxpayers to fund their meals, clothing, housing and health care. This is unacceptable.

Proposition 62 will abolish the death penalty altogether and instead give killers already on death row, and future killers, a life sentence. This is the wrong tact to take. Prop 62 means these murderers will live the rest of their lives at taxpayers’ expense, long after their victims are gone. Instead, a more prudent move is to reform the death penalty by mending what’s broken. The current system is out of balance, we need to restore the balance between the rights of defendants and the need to provide justice and closure for the families of victims and protect society. Voting no on Prop. 62 and voting Yes on Proposition 66 is the answer. Prop. 66 speeds up the appeals process by eliminating legal and procedural delaying tactics while assuring due process protections for those sentenced to death.

Death penalty opponents like to point out the possibility of persons wrongly convicted of capital offenses and sentenced to death being executed. The fact is there is not a single documented case of this ever taking place in California due to the expertise and painstaking quality of investigation and prosecutorial work that has gone into death penalty cases. Prop. 66 ensures that all appeals are heard within five years and no innocent person is executed. In addition, convicts on death row would lose various special privileges they enjoy and will be required to pay restitution to victims’ families out of their prison work pay.

No on Prop. 62 and yes on Prop. 66 is supported by hundreds of district attorneys, sheriffs, law enforcement organizations, elected officials and victims’ right advocates and community leaders. They all joined forces to ensure that the worst of the worst killers receive the strongest sentence to help bring closure to families while saving California taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

California’s death row inmates have murdered more than a thousand victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured. It’s time California reformed our death penalty process so it works.

We urge a no vote on Proposition 62 and yes on Proposition 66.

Michael A. Ramos is San Bernardino County district attorney.


“In sorrow, we mourn those lost. In gratitude, we embrace those around us. In sympathy, we reach out to those who grieve.”

            On this date, August 31, 1984, Kermit Alexander’s mother, sister and two nephews, ages 8 and 13, were murdered in South Central Los Angeles during a home invasion by members of the Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips, whose intended victims lived two doors away.

            To Kermit and Tami Alexander, we will not forget your loved ones who were slain. We will support you by endorsing ‘Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings’. 

            We will remember your loved ones every year on August 31 and we will pray that California will fix the death penalty


California’s death penalty should be reformed, not repealed

October 6, 2016

Californians have strong feelings regarding the death penalty. A lot of the discussion this year has been about the fiscal impacts of competing death penalty measures. Those who want to repeal the death penalty say the system is broken and can’t be fixed, and that it has become overly expensive. Those in favor of reform of the death penalty believe that housing heinous criminals for the rest of their lives is what’s too expensive. Asking taxpayers to clothe, house, feed, guard and provide healthcare to the nearly 750 convicts currently on death row will clearly cost more money than fixing the system.

But while the fiscal debate around the death penalty is important, for me, the issue at hand is not dollars and cents, but justice.

Whatever your feelings are toward the death penalty, one thing most people will never know is the pain experienced when a family member, or in my case, family members are brutally tortured and murdered. They’ll never experience the heartache, the anger, or the frustration with our criminal justice system. I hope no one has to experience the pain I’ve been through, yet I live with these emotions every day and have done so for more than 30 years.

In 1984 my mother, sister and two nephews were cold-heartedly shot to death. The killer, an 18-year-old gang member named Tiqueon Cox walked through my mother’s house and shot each member of my family. My mother sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee and was shot in the head. My sister was shot to death while she slept and my two nephews, aged 8 and 12 years, were shot while they slept. The triggerman was paid to commit murder. In a cruel twist of fate, my family was not the intended target…they were all murdered by mistake when Tiqueon went to the wrong house.

Tiqueon was sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. He’s been sitting on death row for 30 years and has exhausted all of his appeals at both the state and federal level. This man is one of the worst of the worst, yet he still sits on death row, waiting for an execution date, and 30 years later, I continue to wait for justice to be served. California’s death penalty needs to remain intact to deal with criminals like Cox, but it needs to be reformed.

One ballot measure that we must vote no on is Proposition 62. This measure would abolish the death penalty and give these heinous criminals life in prison without parole. Repealing the death penalty does nothing to stop these hardened criminals. In fact, Tiqueon Cox, while on death row, has continued to operate as a shot caller; being classified as the most dangerous man on death row. In 2001, he attempted a violent takeover of the Super Max Adjustment Center at San Quentin. His goal was not to escape but to kill as many guards as possible. He is also responsible for repeated assaults on fellow inmates and correctional officers.

A competing proposition, Proposition 66, will finally provide justice to families. Through Proposition 66, Californians can ensure the death penalty in California not on stays in place but actually works.  Proposition 66 was written by the most experienced legal experts on the death penalty. It was written to ensure due process and to balance the rights of all involved—defendants, victims and their families. Proposition 66 will streamline the system to ensure criminals sentenced to death will not wait years simply to have an appellate attorney appointed.  It will limit unnecessary and repetitive delays in state court to 5 years.  While there are no innocent people on California’s death row, Prop 66 will ensure due process by never limiting claims of actual innocence.  In addition, it would ensure convicts on death row lose special privileges, requiring them to work in prison and use their earnings to pay restitution to victims’ families. Proposition 66 will expand the pool of qualified lawyers to deal with these cases, and the trial courts that handled the death penalty trials in the first place and know them best will handle the initial appeals.  The overall changes to the death penalty system, as laid out by Proposition 66, are simple fixes that will reform the death penalty and fix what’s broken.

Today, California’s death row is filled with killers like Rex Krebs who abducted and murdered two women and Charles Ng who was convicted of murdering 11 people and most likely murdered up to 25 people. Although sentenced to death years ago, they each have been sitting on death row for decades. My family and other families who have suffered through the actions of heinous killers like Cox, Krebs and Ng want and deserve justice.

California’s death row inmates have murdered over 1000 victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured.  They are serial killers, cop killers, child killers and rape/torture murderers.

Those in favor of abolishing the death penalty may call the death penalty cruel and unusual but I would argue that these killers will have it easy – they will be executed by lethal injection.  They will simply fall asleep.

Cruel and unusual is what the victims suffered through and what my family and others like mine suffer through daily.

I urge a no vote on Proposition 62 and yes on Proposition 66 to ensure the worst of the worst killers receive the strongest sentence. A yes on Prop 66 brings closure to families while saving California taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

Justice isn’t gentle. Justice isn’t easy.  But justice denied is not justice.

Alexander is former NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles.