California decision to ban death penalty to be on ballot
If approved, 725 death row prisoners will have sentences converted to life in prison
The death penalty is a fact of modern life that is frequently a topic of
debate. Now, voters in California will have the chance to cast ballots
on a referendum on ending the death penalty this coming November. If the
measure is approved, the 725 California inmates on Death Row will have
their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of
If the measure is approved, the 725 California inmates on Death Row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.
If approved, it will make life without parole the harshest penalty California prosecutors can seek.
Supporters of the measure say that abolishing the death penalty would save the state millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense lawyers who handle death penalty cases. The measure will also save money from not having to maintain the nation's largest death row at San Quentin Prison.
In addition, the $100 million in purported savings from abolishing the death penalty could be utilized to investigate unsolved murders and rapes.
"Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake," Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin prison says. Woodford is now an anti-death penalty advocate and an official supporter of the measure.
When the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, "we did not have an alternative sentence that would keep convicted killers behind bars forever. We certainly did not know that we would spend $4 billion on 13 executions," she said in a statement.
If the measure is passed, California would become the 18th U.S. state to eliminate the death penalty.
The measure will also require most inmates sentenced to life without parole to find jobs within prisons. Most death row inmates do not hold prison jobs for security reasons.
California has not put any prisoner to death since 2006, in spite of being one of 35 states that authorize the death penalty. Since reinstating the death penalty in 1978, it has executed 13 inmates.
A 2009 study conducted by a senior federal judge and law school professor concluded that the state was spending about $184 million a year to maintain Death Row and the death penalty system.
The American Civil Liberties Union, who support the measure, are portraying it as a cost-savings measure in a time of political austerity.
They count several prominent conservatives and prosecutors, including the author of the 1978 measure adopting the death penalty, as supporters, and argue that too few executions have been carried out at too great a cost.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: California, death penalty, death row inmates, ballot
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