We believed the Briggs initiative — the death penalty measure we wrote in 1977 — would bring greater justice. We were wrong.
In 1977, my dad, former state Sen. John Briggs, my brother-in-law and I got together to discuss California's death penalty. We agreed it was ineffective and decided a ballot initiative was needed to expand the number of murder categories eligible for capital punishment. We felt such changes would give prosecutors better tools for meting out just punishments, and that a broadened statute would serve as a warning to all California evildoers that the state would deliver swift and final justice.