October 23, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com
It’s hard to imagine it being taken away without just cause. But it happens — more often than you might think.
When I was just 16 years old, I was stripped of my freedom, wrongfully convicted of a murder I did not commit. I spent twenty years behind bars before I was finally able to prove my innocence.
But I always wonder, if I had been sentenced to death, would I have been able to prove my innocence in time?
This is why I believe so strongly in Proposition 34, which will replace California’s death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole. With the election just two weeks away, it’s a critical time to make sure California voters hear about the true costs of the death penalty.
Today we’re launching our first Yes on 34 TV ad across the state’s airwaves, urging millions of California voters to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. With this new ad, my story will travel farther than ever before — on television.
Most people can’t imagine being found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit. I never expected that my youth would slip away in prison after I was wrongly convicted. But with this new TV ad, millions of viewers across the state can hear my real-life story and learn that our criminal justice system is good but not perfect. I am living proof that with the death penalty we always risk the execution of an innocent person.
I am honored by the all-star team that came together to help share my story of wrongful conviction with voters — including Emmy-winner Martin Sheen, iconic actor and director Edward James Olmos, Grammy- and Academy Award-winner and world-famous musician Hans Zimmer and Lili Haydn, the “Jimi Hendrix” of violin.
Also Donald Heller, the man who wrote California’s death penalty law, will be sharing his story on the radio. He explains that he never considered the costs of implementing the law and now sees it as a “huge” mistake that also risks the execution of an innocent person.
Voting Yes on Proposition 34 makes sense for California. We can save $130 million every single year by replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. This money can be better spent on education and on tools that actually improve safety in our communities, like testing DNA evidence and investigating unsolved murders. We can also make sure that California never makes an irreversible mistake.
The TV ad that tells my story is just one part of the path to victory for Prop 34. You’ll be hearing our message on the radio and seeing our volunteer teams on the ground across California. We have two weeks left to get the facts about the death penalty to as many voters as possible. We can’t do this without the help from our hard-working volunteers. Will you sign up to help Proposition 34 win on November 6? Then watch our campaign ad, and share with everyone you know.
Together, on November 6, we’ll make history.