Over the last year I've written about the effort to place an initiative on the California ballot to eliminate the state's death penalty. On November 6,1 after a long and successful campaign, we finally have the chance to vote for the measure. Here are a few reasons to end capital punishment in California by voting yes on Prop. 34:
- Prop. 34 will do exactly what it claims. Unlike other ballot measures that were funded by corporations or PACs and written to mislead voters, Prop. 34 came from a true grassroots effort and has one simple and straightforward purpose: to replace the death penalty in California with life in prison without parole. If Prop. 34 passes, capital punishment will no longer be an option for prosecutors, and all criminals currently on death row will have their sentences converted to life in prison.
- Prop. 34 will save taxpayer money. The non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office2 has concluded that passage of Prop. 34 will save $100 million annually -- eventually growing to $130 million annually -- in trial and prison costs on the state and local level. To learn some of the details of how the death penalty wastes millions of dollars in California every year, please check out this blog post I wrote back in April.
- Prop. 34 will increase money for law enforcement. The initiative calls for $100 million of the above savings to be used to establish the SAFE California Fund, which will provide grants to police and prosecutors specifically earmarked for solving homicide and rape cases.3
- The death penalty is wrong and unsustainable in a civilized society. You can read about my personal experiences that led me to oppose capital punishment in my essay "Kill 'em All, Ourselves Included." In the months since I wrote that essay, two men sentenced to die have been exonerated and set free -- one in Ohio, one in Louisiana, and both having been imprisoned on death row for over 15 years. No truly compassionate human being can claim that capital punishment is worth the cost of our government executing innocent people. Voting yes on Prop. 34 will help guarantee that never happens in our state.
You can read the full text of Prop. 34, including the CLAO's analysis and arguments for and against the measure, in the California General Election 2012 Official Voter Information Guide. More of my writing about the death penalty can be found here.----
- Or now, if you vote by mail. [↩]
- More or less the state's equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office. [↩]
- The Fund will be capitalized with annual payments over the first four years after passage of Prop. 34, and those costs have been figured into the CLAO's savings projection. [↩]