Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsJurors

Juries should know about punishment

January 28, 2007

Re "Justices find California's sentencing law flawed, Jan. 23

A jury should be involved in the sentencing decision of every case. I never understood why we keep juries in the dark about the possible sentence that the defendants face, except in death penalty trials. Are we afraid that they might be too lenient or too harsh?

We require citizens to report for jury duty; to answer a lot of personal questions during jury selection; to sit through the trial and not form any opinions until it's over; then to deliberate with 11 strangers until a verdict is reached. Why can't we trust jurors with the knowledge that a guilty verdict means a sentence within a certain range? You can be certain that if jurors had this knowledge, our prisons would not be filling up with people serving 25 years to life for stealing a pizza, or with prisoners pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit to avoid this possible consequence.

Daniel J. Schmidt

Deputy public defender

Riverside County

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|