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Capital punishment sends wrong message to society

San Quentin artifacts displayed in San Rafael, September 2012
San Quentin artifacts displayed in San Rafael, September 2012
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Imagine trying to explain to a child that if you kill someone, the government will kill you, because killing people is wrong.

That child should be forgiven for being confused. And he or she would not be the only one.

Just as corporal punishment teaches children that violence against weaker individuals is acceptable, capital punishment teaches not that killing is wrong, but that the people with the most power get to decide who lives or dies.

It is no wonder, therefore, that states with the death penalty (including California) had higher murder rates than states without capital punishment for every year from 1990 to 2010.

This trend holds true for highly populated and urban states; for example, death penalty states California, Texas and Florida have higher homicide rates than non-death penalty states New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

The same pattern is reflected in the murder rates of many neighboring death penalty and non-death penalty states; for instance, Missouri (which has capital punishment) had a 2010 homicide rate almost four times that of next door neighbor Iowa (which does not).

The first step toward sending the right message to society is the abolition of the death penalty.

California voters will have that opportunity on November 6 with Proposition 34, which replaces capital punishment with life imprisonment without parole.

Send the right message. Vote YES on 34.


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