Breaking: California To Vote On Death Penalty In November

Excellent news!

California is set for a major debate on the death penalty following qualification on Monday of a November ballot measure that would replace capital punishment with a life term without possibility of parole.

As a fervent campaigner against the death penalty, I am thrilled. Murder by government decree is morally wrong and solves nothing.

Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the measure, known as the SAFE (Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement) California Act, on the ballot. It would make California the 18th state in the nation without a death penalty. During the last five years, four states have replaced the death penalty and Connecticut is likely to follow soon.

If it passes, the 725 California inmates now on death row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It would also make life without parole the harshest penalty prosecutors can seek. Just 13 people have been executed since the law was re-introduced in 1978.

Major Savings In A Cash-Poor State

Backers of the measure say abolishing the death penalty will save the state millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense attorneys who handle death penalty cases, as well as savings from not having to maintain the nation’s largest death row at San Quentin prison.

Those savings, supporters argue, can be used to help unsolved crimes. If the measure passes, $100 million in purported savings from abolishing the death penalty would be used over three years to investigate unsolved murders and rapes.

Growing numbers of conservatives in California have joined the effort to repeal the state’s capital punishment law, expressing frustration with its price tag and the rarity of executions. California has executed 13 inmates since the law was re-introduced in 1978, and prisoners are far more likely to die of old age on death row than by the executioner’s needle.

Look Who Have Changed Their Minds !

Here are a few who are backing the SAFE Act: Ron Briggs ran the 1978 campaign for a successful ballot initiative that expanded the reach of California’s death penalty; Donald J. Heller is an ex-prosecutor who wrote the 1978 initiative; Jeanne Woodford is a former warden of San Quentin State Prison who oversaw four executions, and is now executive director of Death Penalty Focus; and former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who has said his experience as D.A. helped change his mind about the fairness of the system.

Although their views on the proposition are unknown, former California Chef Justice Ronald M. George and current Chief Tani Cantil-Sakauye, both Republican former prosecutors, have stated publicly that the death penalty system is not working.

The Opposition

From The Los Angeles Times:

The chorus of criticism has death penalty advocates worried, even though California voters have historically favored capital punishment, passing several measures over the last few decades to toughen criminal penalties and expand the number of crimes punishable by death.

“The people of California have regularly voted for the death penalty by wide margins, but of course it has to be a matter of concern,” said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which advocates for tough criminal penalties. He said fundraising to defeat the November measure would be difficult.

Scheidegger’s group filed a lawsuit last week seeking a court order to force the state to establish a single-drug lethal injection procedure that his group says should end litigation that has blocked executions for six years.

The death penalty is wrong. Get out to the ballot in November, Californians, and let’s vote to get rid of this broken system.

Related Stories

More Than One-Third Of U.S. Executions Took Place In Texas

Each Execution Costs California $300 Million

California Could Vote To End The Death Penalty

Will Connecticut Be The 17th State To Abolish The Death Penalty?

Photo Credit: Steve Rhode


Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

Abolish the heinous, barbaric, cruel, inhuman execution chambers. No more death penalty.

Sandra K.
Sandra T5 years ago

Eric H: laughed my arse off regarding the quote from Gandhi :-) And I fully agree with both posts you made. In what type of 'civilized' society exactly does money come before human life? You cannot justify murdering somebody because they possibly murdered another human being. The fact of the matter is that juries & courts make mistakes all the time. It makes me feel ill to think of how many innocent people have been executed in the US since the death penalty was instituted. Using the 'reasoning' of an-eye-for-an-eye makes the US no more 'moral' than countries with shariah law. Very glad that California is doing this and hope that the death penalty is abolished once and for all. It has never deterred violent people from committing violent crimes. It just does NOT work.

Sophi Z.
Sophia Z5 years ago

Because of prosecutorial misconduct, Michael Morton always maintained his innocence of the murder of his wife, Christine, who was found dead in their Austin, Texas, home by a neighbor. At trial, the prosecution argued that Morton beat his wife to death after she refused to have sex with him upon returning from his 32nd birthday celebration at a restaurant. There were no witnesses or physical evidence linking Morton to the crime.
After more than five years of court battles, the Innocence Project finally won a court order to conduct DNA testing on a bloodstained bandana found about 100 yards from the Morton’s home. In August 2011, the test results showed that the DNA belonged to Christine Morton and an unnamed man whose DNA was also linked to a similar murder that occurred later in Travis County. The man is currently being investigated for both crimes. On October 4, 2011, Michael Morton was freed, and he was later fully exonerated on December 19. Meanwhile, the State Bar of Texas is investigating the two prosecutors involved in his case for professional misconduct. Michael Morton served 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit. What if he had been executed? Let's abolish this monstrous practice.

Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

Wow this is great to hear!

Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago


Dominic C.
Dominic C5 years ago

California is a sure thing this November, otherwise the DP will burn a big hole in their budget. And States like Florida, Ohio and Texas should gain momentum to abolish soon to let the domino fall on the DP in US.

Dave M.
David Matthews5 years ago

KEEP IT FOR THAT MONSTER CHARLES NG - or else toss him out into the exercise yard at high noon !!

DeAnna Collins
DeAnna Collins5 years ago

Now, to get Texas to get rid of the death penalty

Susan S.
Susan S5 years ago

To respond to the comments so far with a few facts: Manson was not sentenced to death because he was tried during the window when California did not have a death penalty. It was voted back in in 1976. Since then, California has executed 13 people. More death row inmates have died from suicide or natural causes than have been executed.

The appeals process is Federally dictated. One reason it takes so long is that there are not enough lawyers qualified to represent death penalty cases at the appeals level. California could speed things up if more lawyers were available. Currently, maintaining the death penalty costs California $184 million a year. It would cost an additional $100 million a year to speed up the process.

In the meantime, it costs $150,000 per death row inmate per year, while in the general population it costs $47,000 per inmate per year--less than a third as much. There are currently 732 individuals on death row in California. You do the math. And even if the current law suits were resolved tomorrow, only 14 of those individuals have exhausted their appeals.

The only thing accomplished by the death penalty is revenge. Countries (and states) that do not have a death penalty have lower homicide rates than those that do. What is effective is solving the crimes and putting dangerous people behind bars. Right now, 46% of murders and 56% of reported rapes go unsolved in California every year. Californians would be safer if those murderers and rapists were tak

Karen and Ed O.
Karen and Ed O5 years ago

Glenn M.


I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you mean that the death penalty deters people from committing murder, well, that is just plain not true. Nobody who goes into a jewelry store to rob it, stops to say "Oh dear, I'd better not kill this person because I might get the death penalty". Most people who kill don't even think of punishment since they think they can get away with it.
If, on the other hand, you mean the convicted will get out and kill again --- not going to happen. The death penalty will be replaced with life without parole. That is justice rather than revenge.