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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / GOVERNOR : Wilson Says He Would Seek Broader Death Penalty : He would include fatal drive-by shootings and carjackings as capital offenses. Brown distributes copies of economic plan for the state.

October 11, 1994|BILL STALL | TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Gov. Pete Wilson lashed out at his favorite targets Monday--criminally violent "thugs"--and vowed that a priority of a second Wilson term would be to expand the death penalty in California to drive-by shootings and carjackings.

"Yes, I believe that it is a penalty that fits the crime," Wilson said during an appearance in Chatsworth. "If you take a life, you should be prepared to pay for it with your own."

Wilson never mentioned by name his Democratic foe, but he nevertheless gave state Treasurer Kathleen Brown both barrels of his top reelection assault weapon--the crime issue--with just four weeks to go to the Nov. 8 election.

In case there was any possible confusion, another speaker came bluntly to the point about Brown's pledge to enforce California's capital punishment law even though she personally opposes the death penalty.

Wendell Phillips, on hand as vice president of the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Assns. to endorse Wilson, said that enforcement is "not the governor's job," but belongs to the police and prosecutors.

Phillips added: "We can't have somebody in the governor's office who can fudge on the death penalty. The death penalty is not a fudgeable issue."

Brown campaigned in Northern California Monday, taking her printed 62-page economic plan to meetings with mayors and other local officials in Sacramento and to supporters at a campaign office in Stockton.

"The voters deserve to know how their next governor is going to lead this state," Brown said in a statement. "My written economic plan lays out in full detail exactly how I plan to turn California around. Pete Wilson's only plan is a political plan for reelection."

In Chatsworth, the setting for Wilson's event was a familiar trademark of his campaign: A stern, tight-lipped governor standing at a podium surrounded by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victims of crime and members of their families. Wilson wore a green ribbon in his lapel to signify sympathy with crime victims. There were two American flags and a banner saying: "No more victims."

In this case, the venue was an area that has organized a spirited Neighborhood Watch program to combat gang crime in cooperation with the Devonshire division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Wilson walked down one long block chatting with residents and commending them for their volunteer spirit and cooperation. The podium, flags and banner were set up in front of the home at the end of the block.

Wilson said he was "humbled" by their work, and their support of him.

Then he talked about how he was able to harness the power of people's discontent to win breakthrough anti-crime legislation this year.

"This year--long, long overdue--we were able to focus the outrage, the fear, the frustration of some 32 million Californians," Wilson said. "Whatever their differences, they had a common bond. They demanded to be heard in the Legislature.

"Finally, we had a legislative session that gave meaning to the word 'justice' in the phrase 'criminal justice system,' " he said.

Wilson cited passage of the "three-strikes" bill to lengthen sentences for repeat offenders, the "one-strike" bill to do the same with convicted rapists and child molesters and bills to limit prisoners' rights, reduce time off for good behavior, and to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes.

Wilson also sought, but failed to get, measures to extend the death penalty to drive-by shooters and carjackers when their actions take the lives of unintended victims. Brown had said she would personally vote against such measures, but would back them if they became law.

The governor also said he would seek legislation to make the most violent criminals serve their full sentences, with no time off for good behavior, and tougher time for parole violators.

"We have to continue the reform . . . until every Californian enjoys the fundamental right to live free of the fear of crime," Wilson said.

Among those attending the event was Mike Rice, the Brown campaign research director.

While Wilson talks tough, Rice said, his Administration has hurt law enforcement because of budget cuts--1,600 overall, including 400 California Highway Patrol officers. At the same time, there are 14,000 parolees at large, including 30 convicted murderers and 500 rapists and child molesters, Rice said.

"I'd like to see Gov. Wilson's plan for catching these thugs," Rice said. "Then I'll listen to his rhetoric."

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