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June 27, 2011

California legislator offers bill to put state death penalty repeal on 2012 ballot

As detailed in this local article, a California "lawmaker on Monday introduced a bill seeking a public vote on whether California should abolish capital punishment and convert death sentences to life in prison, citing a study that said most condemned inmates die of suicide or old age despite billions in taxpayer costs." Here is more:

Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock, of Berkeley, said the state can no longer afford the cost of trying capital cases, defending them through a lengthy appeals process and housing inmates in the nation's most populous death row....

"Capital punishment is an expensive failure and an example of the dysfunction of our prisons," Hancock said in a statement. "California's death row is the largest and most costly in the United States. It is not helping to protect our state; it is helping to bankrupt us."...

There are 714 California inmates now awaiting execution. That's nearly twice the number than in Florida, the state with the next largest death row population, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C.

On average, executions take 20 years to carry out from the time of sentencing. No one has been put to death in California since 2006 because of an ongoing legal challenge to how the state carries out executions by lethal injection and, more recently, a shortage of execution drugs.

Of inmates who had been awaiting execution, 78 have died of suicide or natural causes. Hancock's bill would amend state law to require life in prison without parole for those convicted of what are now capital crimes. It would put the question before voters on the November 2012 ballot.

One Republican lawmaker said Hancock's bill was misguided. "I appreciate that they're trying to save money, but I don't think we should put a price on justice," said Sen. Joel Anderson, of La Mesa.

Anderson, vice chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said costs could be reduced by streamlining the appeals process for death row inmates and carrying out executions more quickly. "Death row was never intended to be a retirement home," he said....

Hancock needs only a majority of lawmakers to approve her bill in a Legislature controlled by Democrats. Gov. Jerry Brown, also a Democrat, has said he personally opposes the death penalty but defended the law when he was attorney general.

June 27, 2011 at 09:50 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Never happen. All the pro-DP folks have to say is Richard Allen Davis and it will get voted down. There is always an extreme case like that it is difficult to argue against. Perhaps if death was reserved for those who murder while sentenced to life it might have a chance.

Posted by: George | Jun 27, 2011 11:07:15 PM

the naked ugliness of the death penalty
.....
For those who have never read the words of former Governor, Edmond (Pat) Brown, in his book Public Justice, Private Mercy: A Governor's Education on Death Row .....
"I've done many things in life that have given me great pleasure and pride, and a few things that I'd either like to forget or to have another chance at. But the longer I live, the larger loom those fifty-nine decisions about justice and mercy that I had to make as governor. They didn't make me feel godlike then: far from it; I felt just the opposite. It was an awesome, ultimate power over the lives of others that no person or government should have, or crave. And looking back over their names and files now, despite the horrible crimes and the catalog of human weaknesses they comprise, I realize that each decision took something out of me that nothing - not family or work or hope for the future - has ever been able to replace."

Let us hope the legislators of California will be reminded of this truth: that all humanity suffers likewise whilst the ugliness and imperfection of the death penalty remains in California and other states in the US.

Posted by: peter | Jun 28, 2011 1:40:20 AM

Good.

Posted by: Ala JD | Jun 28, 2011 12:58:06 PM

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