As a people who should be championing the cause of the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we need to first find humane solutions to our social ills. Isolation, incarceration and, yes, LWOP sentences are barbaric and sit in the realm of the lesser of two evils. And that’s why California still has the cruel instruments of death as its solutions.
Darrell Lomax is an innocent man who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for over 15 years. A poet, musician and activist, Darryl has been fighting for his freedom and advocating for justice. Here, he explains what’s at stake in the Proposition 34 ballot initiative that would replace the death penalty with sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
“I cannot go on / but I will go on - / on and on even when / on becomes off,” writes Spoon Jackson, the well known writer serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, the “other death penalty” that will become the fate of all death row prisoners if Prop 34 passes. Spoon and most death row prisoners are adamantly opposed.
John “J-Rock” Carter was a juvenile lifer who was sentenced at 16 years old under a law that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled was unconstitutional in Alabama v. Miller. Irony of Ironies. J-Rock never lived to see it. J-Rock fought for justice. He put himself on the front line of the struggle against inhumanity – and paid for it with his life. But his contribution will never be overlooked, ignored or down-played.
The premise of the SAFE California Act is to “modify” the death penalty by replacing it with Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP.) The public will once again vote on how they wish to execute the so-called “worst of the worst”: either death by lethal injection, or death by long term incarceration. The act would also transfer $100 million to law enforcement.
Happy Mother’s Day to Yuri Kochiyama! I’d like to also wish the women who haven’t seen their children in a long time, some since birth, a special Happy Mother’s Day. Our prayers are with you even if you feel alone at a time when in America prisons systematically separate mothers from their children, often permanently.
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