Debating criminal issues, the death penalty and sexual offenders
Original post made by Diana Diamond on Oct 9, 2006
These were just a series of questions asked this week to the two candidates running for the DA's race in Santa Clara County. And all these questions come under the purview of the DA's office.
I had the marvelous opportunity to moderate a debate on Monday at the Rotary Club of Palo Alto (of which I am a member) between Judge Dolores Carr and Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu, the two candidates in a heated race for District Attorney of Santa Clara County. It's a race for a very important seat.
Very important because we are talking about a county office that has 190 attorneys (think about the salaries attorneys made), 90 to 100 special investigators, an office that supervises the county Crime Lab, and an office that has a $68 million annual budget.
Most of us yawn about such local election issues. Most of us never get to know the candidates (just as we don't get to know judicial candidates).
So the debate on Monday was a great opportunity to learn a lot. Both of these candidates, both of whom are women, are articulate, knowledgeable, and practiced attorneys. We are very lucky to have them running for the DA seat. This time it's a choice, not an echo.
Interestingly, if elected, they will probably be re-elected, and re-elected, and re-elected to four-year terms of office. This office usually becomes a lifetime occupation provided the DA does not do anything ridiculous. We are talking about a long-term office here.
So I ask, how do you feel about the death penalty? Should the DA's office urge that the more heinous criminals be subject to a death penalty? And how do you feel about the third-strike option, particularly if the third strike is a minor crime, like stealing a tire, or a crime against oneself possessing a couple of grams of marijuana. And how do you feel about trying 14-year-olds as adults? Or 13-year-olds?
I remember when my sons were 14-years-old, they were still short-kid freshmen and just getting acne.
My point: This is a critical race. Let's talk about the issues involved.
Karyn Sinunu's home page is Web Link, and Dolores Carr's is Web Link
on Oct 9, 2006 at 11:40 pm
A few thoughts - Death penalty - my heart goes out to anyone victimized directly or indirectly by the types of offenders who face the death penalty, and there are certainly some deserving criminals out there. But I think only a perfect system can deal in the ultimate penalty. The legal and ethical problems with administration of death sentences are well known and amply documented, to the extent that I could not in good conscience support the continuation of death sentences. On a case-by-case basis, you can always point to those who deserve to die - that's easy. But can you face the persons and families of those who have been, or inevitably will be murdered by the "justice" system, and tell them it's worth it? I can't. Three-strikes - with our current prison over-crowding problem, I'd have a hard time looking at a toaster-thief and saying that the interests of the state are well-served with a mandatory 25-to-life. Non-violent drug offenders also stand out among those we don't need to imprison for lengthy periods.
on Oct 10, 2006 at 1:23 am
There's never enough information available on these important local elections, especially judicial races. In the past (when I lived in another district), I actually called around to local law offices to get the skinny on certain candidates, the official information was so scarce. Diana, was the debate recorded, audio or video? Is there any way it could be made available as a web cast and the link posted here?
on Oct 10, 2006 at 7:45 am
Diana Diamond is a registered user.
Unfortunately, the debate was not recorded. But if you go to the candidates' web sites, they will be participating in other local debates, and you may be able to see them there.
I certainly agree with you that it is hard to learn about candidates in county and judicial races, which are very important races.