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Riverside (Calif.) condena más reos a muerte

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Riverside condena más reos a muerte

Es el líder de todos los condados californianos en ese renglón

Por primera vez desde que se instituyó la pena capital en California, el Condado de Riverside ocupó la posición líder como la región con más condenados a muerte, equiparándose al Condado de Los Ángeles cuya población dobla la comunidad de Riverside

De los 22 veredictos a muerte registrados hasta octubre de 2010 (ocho de ellos hispanos), Riverside, reportó seis casos, y Los Ángeles, cinco (un juicio continua pendiente en corte) es decir, estas dos regiones constituyeron más de la mitad de todas las sentencias estatales."Cualquiera pudiera pensar que Los Ángeles o en Riverside tiene los crímenes más violentos de todo el estado y no es así, simplemente queda demostrado que el sistema que envuelve a la pena capital es muy arbitrario", comentó Richard Dieter, director ejecutivo del Centro de Información para Pena de Muerte (DPIC)

"Las sentencias no se basan en estándares estatales sino en decisiones individuales. Los fiscales del condado tienen plena discreción para decidir si aplican la pena de muerte o la cadena perpetua. Estas decisiones tienen enormes consecuencias fiscales tanto para los condados como para todo el estado", recalcó Dieter.

En total, sólo Riverside, Los Ángeles y Orange fueron responsables de más del 80% de todas las sentencias a muerte emitidas en el estado este año.

Natasha Minsker, de la Unión Americana de las Libertades Civiles del Norte de California (ACLU), destacó que aunque el número de personas que este 2010 terminaron en el pabellón de la muerte se redujo de 29 a 22 (ocho de ellos hispanos), la cifra de presos condenados a morir en California fue la más alta y costosa en los Estados Unidos.

El año pasado, Los Ángeles envió a 13 personas a la pena de muerte y Riverside a cuatro, las cantidades más elevadas en toda la década pasada.

"Cuando el fiscal Rod Pacheco del distrito de Riverside fue electo anunció categóricamente que emprendería una política agresiva para buscar la pena máxima de los inculpados y comenzamos a ver que los casos iban en aumento, pero nunca habían alcanzado este nivel" detalló Minsker.

Recientemente, Pacheco anunció que el próximo 16 de diciembre buscará la sentencia de muerte para Earl Ellis Green, acusado de asesinar al oficial de policía de esa ciudad, Ryan Bonaminio.

De condenarse a Green a la muerte, del 2000 a la fecha Riverside tendría en su cuenta más de 34 personas sentenciadas a la pena máximas, la segunda más alta en California.

"Lamentablemente el escenario político juega un papel importante en la decisión de algunos fiscales de buscar más sentencias de muerte", destacó Ty Alper, director asociado de la Clínica sobre Pena de Muerte de la Universidad de California en Berkeley.

Según un reporte de la ACLU, a nivel nacional la mayoría de los estados han cambiado su actitud eligiendo la cadena perpetua sobre la pena de muerte, pero California va contra esa tendencia nacional y envió a más personas a la pena de muerte el año pasado que en los siete años anteriores.

La disposición de preferir la cadena perpetua obedece principalmente al alto costo que conlleva la pena de muerte y es que cada sentencia requiere un proceso de revisión obligatorio para garantizar que no se inflija el castigo máximo a una persona equivocada o inocente.

Dicha apelación cuesta en promedio 250,000 dólares, en pago de honorarios para abogados, expertos y viajes para entrevistar a los convictos, además como los casos de pena de muerte pueden tardar más de 25 años en terminar, a la suma de los costos legales se debe añadir un promedio de 50,000 dólares anuales por reo en gastos de manutención.

"Por todo el dinero que ya hemos gastado en la pena de muerte en California, sólo 1 de cada 100 personas condenadas a muerte ha sido ejecutada durante los últimos treinta años", apunta el estudio.

Con una población superior a 700 condenados a muerte, la Comisión de California de Administración equitativa de Justicia (California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice) concluyó que California gasta cerca de 137 millones al año en la pena de muerte, el más grande del país.

California podría dar un giro importante en su posición frente a la pena de muerte. ya que la actitud de los votantes ha demostrado estar lista para revertir los casos de pena de muerte a cadenas perpetuas sin opción a salir bajo fianza, opinó Minsker.

Otros cambios importantes podrían aguardar para los reos de Riverside cuyas sentencia de muerte aún están pendiente en los tribunales.

"Pacheco perdió las pasadas elecciones y tenemos la esperanza que el nuevo fiscal venga con una buena deposición para revisar el inusual número de casos. A medida que la pena de muerte se concentra en una porción cada vez más pequeña de California, se incrementan las desigualdades y la falta de justicia en el sistema penal. Por ahora, todos estamos pagando el precio de sus decisiones", finalizó Minsker.


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