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By Maggie Fetterly
California’s Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty in the state. The repeal, if approved, will replace the death penalty with the sentence of life without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment. The measure would also require the individual found guilty to work while in state prison in order to pay restitution to the victims’ families.
However, another proposition on the ballot, Proposition 66, would keep the death penalty in place but change the procedure to speed up the appeals process in the courts.
The controversial history of the death penalty in California began in 1972, when the California Supreme Court decided to abolish the death penalty, deeming it unconstitutional. However, in 1978, voters approved Proposition 7 to re-institute the death penalty in California. According to the proponent’s statements in the state’s official Voter’s Guide, since 1978, 13 inmates have been executed in the state of California, costing a total of about $5 billion to taxpayers throughout the years.
Californians rejected a measure to ban capital punishment in 2012.
The main argument for Proposition 62 is twofold: first, advocates say it would prevent potentially innocent criminals from being put to death; and second, taxpayers would save money by building a cost effective system that creates opportunity for work, and closure for the victims’ families.
According to the proponents, taxpayers would save $150 million per year if Proposition 62 passes. It is also argued that the risk in executing an innocent person and racial inequality in the criminal justice system would be considered erased.
Those who oppose the initiative argue it would be too expensive for taxpayers and would protect criminals instead of protecting the victims’ rights.
Proposition 66, meanwhile, proposes a mend to the trial system that would speed up appeals but not abolish the death penalty. Supporters of Proposition 66 argue that taxpayers won’t pay for these criminals while they wait on death row for 30 or more years due to the faster and more efficient court system created.
Proposition 66 would require trial courts to be in charge of petitions challenging death penalty convictions with a time frame for review and an appointed attorney to only work these types of cases. Proposition 66 follows the same compensation requirements to their victims’ families.
Allison Martin, campaign spokesperson for Yes on Proposition 62, said, “California’s death penalty is broken beyond repair. Proposition 66’s exorbitant price tag and extreme proposed remedy prove just how irreplaceable California’s death penalty system is. Proposition 62 is the only real solution to our failed death penalty.”
Both propositions offer solutions to the death penalty process in California, but both are at far ends of the spectrum on how to do so. If both propositions are approved, whichever initiative has the most yes votes will be enacted and the other will not.
For Proposition 62:
Former President Jimmy Carter, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, California Democratic Party, California NAACP, several ACLU groups, select religious and humanist organizations
Contributions for Proposition 62
Yes on 62, No on 66 (Taxpayers for Sentencing Reform): $7,220,713.82.
Million Voter Project Action Fund: $1,755,000.
For Proposition 66:
California Republican Party, dozens of law enforcement advocacy groups, and dozens of district attorneys and sheriffs throughout California.
Contributions for Proposition 66:
Californians to Mend, not End, the Death Penalty (Supported by Prosecutors and Law Enforcement): $4,664,882.70
No on Prop 62 (political action committee): $8,372,260.10