What is arguably the safest place to be in California?
Try death row at San Quentin.
It is one of the few places you're almost assured to die a natural death.
And because of that a federal appeals court may rule California's death penalty unconstitutional.
If that sounds crazy, just consider it the latest attempt by death penalty opponents to throw everything from the kitchen sink to the drain trap at the ultimate penalty for deliberately, callously, and with severe indifference depriving another of their life.
You've heard the other arguments. It's unconstitutional. There aren't enough check and balances. It's state-sanctioned murder. Innocent people get executed. It's too expensive.
Now opponents are arguing there are too many checks and balances because it takes so long to execute California's rag-tagged band of convicted mass murders who run the gamut of child rapist-murderers, serial killers, mass murders, repeat murderers (they get paroled from prison for one murder and then kill again), torture killers, and those laying in wait for their victims.
The statistics back them up. Of the 900 people sentenced to die since 1978, just 13 have been executed. Another 94 have died of natural causes.
The fact the state isn't executing murderers sentenced to death row fast enough is now being considered cruel and inhumane punishment by those who are against the death penalty.
How flimsy is the latest ploy to give the men and women on death row that have executed more than 1,200 victims between them?
Attorney General Kamala Harris, not exactly a fan of the death penalty, argues the ploy is "fundamentally unsound" given the delays are doing exactly what proponents want which is to make sure those sentenced to die have due process and are given every right to appeal.
If those who oppose the death penalty are arguing that the condemned aren't being executed fast enough then they should be thrilled to know this fall the state is expected to roll out a one-drug lethal injection to make sure convicted murderers suffer almost no pain before they are killed save for a needle prick.
So what if they suffer discomfort or some pain?
Jesus Santiago Martinez Jr. should be so lucky to die from a lethal injection.
After serving a term for sexually assaulting a disabled woman, Martinez in a jealous rage stabbed 24-year-old Christina Grace Wilkerson in the face, neck, and body and then shot her in the face with a .22 rifle. That was merciful compared to what Martinez did to his 24-year-old girlfriend Myra Orozco. She stabbed and slashed 30 times in the face, neck, and body before she was dumped from the car they were sitting in and then ran over by Martinez.
Martinez is still breathing having been sentenced to death row on Dec. 7, 2009.
Actually, Martinez is a saint compared to his buddies on death row and those who have died of natural causes while filling every appeal possible to make sure they didn't lose their lives in an untimely manner as their victims did.
Here are some of the ways death row murderers made sure their victims had maximum pain and fear:
*A 13-year-old boy after being raped was hog-tied in such a manner that as he struggled against his bonds he choked himself to death.
*Women have had their throats slit so they could slowly bleed to death at the hands of dozens of murderers.
*An elderly woman was stabbed to death with an ice pick as were several men although by different murderers. The men, in case you think injecting someone with drugs to kill them is depraved, were stabbed repeatedly in the brain through their ears.
Men and women capable of such atrocities are what we are talking about.
The fact they are still breathing is not cruel and inhumane. It's a travesty.
So why not support life without the possibility of parole?
If you believe that will really happen then you also must be convinced the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and The Easter Bunny not only exist but live in a condo project in San Francisco.
Do away with the death penalty and it is only a matter of time before the same people start working to do away with the life without a chance of parole sentence.
Say what you want about the death penalty but no one sentence to death row has ever killed again. You can't say the same about someone sentenced to life to prison.
The solution is to fix the appeals process. If Virginia can execute the D.C. sniper in six years, California can execute Jesus Santiago Martinez Jr. in less than 20 years.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.