California Push to Limit Appeals Process


In an op-ed in today’s

Los Angeles Times

, University of Southern California journalism professor and former science writer for the


, K.C. Cole, questions the logic behind a push that would fast track executions in California.


Three former California governors are urging the state to limit the appeals process to five years, which is drastically shorter than the average 12 to 15 years that it generally takes now. Eighteen people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States

after serving time on death row

and they all served more than five years. Cole writes:

Yes, the U.S. justice system ranks as one of the fairest in the world. But that doesn’t exonerate it from the terrible mistakes it has made.


There’s no doubt that many of the prisoners now on death row in California have committed unspeakable crimes. But if exoneration rates tell us anything, it’s that some could well be innocent — the victims of bad science, wrong testimony and citizens who find it too easy to look the other way. Justice will never be perfect, but until the state acknowledges the gaps in the process and institutes reforms, it shouldn’t be in a hurry to speed up the pace of executions.

Read the

full op-ed


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