By: Assemblyman Tyler Diep on March 22, 2019
In California, one of our crown jewels is the initiative process enumerated in our Constitution. The people, like you and me, have the right to directly ask our fellow Californians to decide through the ballot, issues that determine our future and fate. Many say this is the “fourth branch of government” — empowering the people to be co-equal to the three branches of government and a way to keep them in check. It’s also the people’s way to overturn bad decisions made by politicians in Sacramento. One of the best-known examples is Proposition 13, where average citizens revolted against Sacramento to protect their homes and livelihoods from excessive property taxes.
Another example surrounds the issue of the death penalty. It was in 1972 that the California Supreme Court ruled that California’s capital punishment system was unconstitutional. In 1978, through Proposition 7, voters reinstated the death penalty. Voters again spoke loud and clear in 2012, by defeating Proposition 34 which would have ended the death penalty. In 2016, the voters again reaffirmed their support for the death penalty by defeating Proposition 62. Furthermore, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 66 to speed up and limit the appeals process to a maximum of five years in challenging death penalty convictions and sentences. Time after time, Californians have supported the death penalty for the most heinous criminals.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom, overrode the people when he signed his executive order to halt capital punishment. He declared, “I think we’re better than this,” alongside his fellow Democratic constitutional officers and legislators. The governor, with support from Democratic officeholders, did act like they were “better” — better than the same voters that entrusted them to execute and respect the laws the people put in place.
The sad part is that this is the norm in Sacramento. As a member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, I have seen more legislation favoring criminals over victims. This is concerning, because we’ve only had two of the many hearings to come. Ending capital punishment is another message to convicted felons and would-be criminals that they will be protected, at the expense of current and future victims. Speaking of victims, the governor at his press conference said he made this decision with “the victims in mind” and that “we owe them.” I say this is not what we do when we have the victims in mind. This action brings back the pain and suffering once endured by families who lost loved ones.
The governor also said, “I can’t sign my name to that. I can’t be party to that. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night,” when talking about signing off on executions. The reality is that the victims’ families haven’t been able to sleep at night. They had to sign their family member’s death certificate. How do you come back to a reality where your loved one will never be there to take part of joyous family moments?
As your representative in the state Assembly, I am committed to ensuring that public safety is always first and keeping our families and friends safe. And as equally important, I will always respect the decisions made directly by the people I represent.
Assemblyman Tyler Diep was elected in 2018 and is a member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.