Wednesday, October 24, 2012

California's Proposition 34

Huffington Post

A poll published recently shows that 42 percent of likely voters in California favor Proposition 34, which would replace the death penalty in California with life-without-parole. Roughly the same percentage supports the death penalty. Thirteen percent are undecided. 

If those 13 percent have heard any of the debate about California's death penalty, they already know that the state has the largest death row in the country and that those inmates are more likely to die of old age and natural causes than execution. If they've heard anything about Proposition 34, they know that it will save the state $1 billion in the next five years and direct millions of dollars to solving unsolved rapes and murders. 

But when we hear the stories of injustice -- defense attorneys arriving at court in an alcohol-induced stupor, men being executed despite grave doubts that they are actually guilty, prosecutors suppressing evidence -- we still associate them with that death penalty down there -- the one that the Southern states carry out. 

Not only does California's death penalty have its own problems, but its very existence lends support to death rows in other states. For its own share, California's death penalty is obscenely expensive -- it costs $130 million more per year than life in prison without parole. Meanwhile, a shocking 56 percent of reported rapes and 46 percent of homicides go unsolved every year in this state. We know that innocent men like Franky Carillo, who spent 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of a shooting by mistaken eyewitness testimony, have fallen prey to the system's flaws.
Anumber of States have already abolished the death penalty,  It's about time California did so.  Its reputation as the progressive leader of the US is in jeopardy.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. It's reputation as the progressive leader? That may be, but look at the state. Nothing resembling a rational budget in years, and a bunch of looney toons who seek to pass one law after another to micromanage the lives of Californians. Then there's the ballot initiative itself. The voters haven't met a spending program that they don't want or a tax that they'll accept. Some progress.

  2. Someone has been reading the SAFE Act propaganda rather than investigating the facts. 1)There is no independent, 3rd party study that exists which backs up any claim that eliminating the death penalty in CA will save money. The "study" put forth by the Prop 34 campaign was conducted by individuals whose opposition to the death penalty is well-known. They are trying to push their own agenda. The non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office has studied Prop 34 and while they estimate possible savings under Prop 34, they acknowledge substantial uncertainties in their estimates and admit they could be off by "tens of millions of dollars."

    2) The $ for law enforcement is for only 3 years and amounts to less than 1.5% of the LA Sheriff's Dept. budget-- but must be spread between 58 counties and more cities. A pittance of a bribe for conservative votes.

    3) No one can point to a single person wrongfully on death row at the completion of his appeals or who has been executed in CA. Carrillo was NEVER sentenced to death, nor found innocent. His sentence was overturned and the DA decided not to refile charges. Even if innocent, this only shows the appellate process works.

    4) The latest KPIX/CBS-5 San Francisco poll with Survey USA showed Prop 34 losing 32 to 48 percent.

    5) The problem with not following through with executions can be remedied quickly.

    Get the truth at and

    1. I never understood the claims that it's so much more expensive to keep a gun on death row, and when I looked at the link to the Prop 34 explanation I was still in the dark.

      My idea is the cost is not the best reason for abolition anyway. Number 1 for me is that it is morally wrong. You can't tell people it's wrong to kill and then turn around and kill them when they do. It's inconsistent. The death penalty is state sanctioned per-meditated murder in my book. The second reason is also compelling, that they sometimes execute innocent people.

    2. The state is saying that it is morally wrong to kill an innocent person. You choose not to make that distinction, and that's your right, but there's nothing dishonest about saying that those guilty of murder deserve death.