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November 7, 2012

California voters appear to be approving three-strikes reform, rejecting death penalty repeal

As of the writing of this post, Election Day has been over for three hours in my time zone and is just about to end in California.  According to the result on this official California webpage with right now just over half of all precincts reporting, Proposition 34 calling for the repeal of California's death penalty is losing the popular vote by 46% to 54% and Proposition 36 calling for the reform of California's severe three-strikes sentencing law is winning the popular vote by 68% to 32%.

Assuming that the precinct which have reported are faily representative, it looks as though the voters in California are going to keep the death penalty on the books and are going to curtail the harshest aspects of the state's recidivism sentencing law.  Though I had predicted these basic outcomes (informed by the generally on-point polling data from the last few weeks on these issues), I am a bit surprised that the death penalty repeal vote is so close and that the three-strikes reform vote is so one-sided.

Ain't democracy grand!

November 7, 2012 at 03:05 AM | Permalink


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Repeal of the Depath Penalty:
'Prop 34 has been defeated by slightly more than 6%. That margin is 3-4x the national popular vote margin by which President Obama won re-election.

Those claiming a mandate for him will have to, if they are consistent, be at-least-3 times-as emphatic-in noting that California voters have issued a mandate to keep the death penalty.' {http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/}

Posted by: Adamakis | Nov 7, 2012 10:07:02 AM

Is Romney currently on his way back to Kolob, in his magic underwear?

The death penalty supporters won this battle. They only did so, however, by capitalizing on ignorance. Well over 40% of the California electorate is operating under the false impression that death is cheaper than LWOP.

When that ignorance is eradicated, the DP is gone in Calif.

Posted by: Scarlett Rose | Nov 7, 2012 12:54:02 PM

Scarlett --

Has it occurred to you that the voters are fully aware of the high cost of the death penalty, but prefer to keep it anyway because they believe it is just?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2012 2:02:20 PM

There's another way to interpret the CA results: the most liberal state in the country still supports the death penalty, warts and all. Nah, better to just call the voters stupid.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Nov 7, 2012 2:10:17 PM

Thirteen people were executed since the 1970s -- the public were okay with a token number of those death eligible being executed and a few might have thought the small print that led to some on death row to be against it was not worth it, all things considered. I'm sure some voter ignorance was present, ignorance a norm generally with benighted humans, but not seeing it as somehow uniquely at work here. BTW, not thinking CA as a whole is the most liberal state.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 7, 2012 2:37:06 PM

@Scarlett Rose
You'd be surprised how many who oppose the death penalty believe that an imprisoned killer could never kill again. They too live in ignorance.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 7, 2012 3:02:54 PM

Wanna see how broken the death penalty system is in California?

Read In re Reno, 55 Cal.4th 428 (2012) --- homicides in the 1970s; the case is still going through state habeas proceedings; decades of federal habeas proceedings remain.

Come on now.

Posted by: Switch Back | Nov 7, 2012 3:32:14 PM

Bill Otis knows not of what he speaks.

"A September 2011 Field Poll found slightly more believing life in prison was more expensive than the death penalty (43% to 41%), while in 1989 greater than a two to one majority felt this way (54% to 26%)." http://yubanet.com/california/Field-Poll-More-voters-now-favor-death-penalty-s-repeal-Prop-34-but-Yes-vote-less-than-a-majority.php#.UJrFpIUtHx4

The death penalty cheerleading squad relies on ignorance to support its morbid position.

Posted by: Nonsense | Nov 7, 2012 3:36:32 PM

Nonsense --

Do you really think life-and-death decisions about central moral issues like capital punishment should be made on the basis of money?

Now that really would be nonsense.

P.S. It was your beloved Field poll that completely blew the prediction on Prop 34, finding just last week that it was way ahead. Wanna try again?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2012 3:58:00 PM

Switch Back --

Your post helps make my case that there needs to be a fixed time and expense cap on death penalty litigation. Thank you.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2012 4:01:14 PM

Yes, by all means read In re Reno to see what is wrong. In a case that has already had a direct appeal and a state habeas proceeding, counsel files a successive habeas petition that is 500 pages long and contains 143 claims, substantially all of which are patently meritless.

After years and years of this, the California Supreme Court finally served notice it won't put up with this any more and will impose sanctions. The only real question is what took them so long?

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Nov 7, 2012 4:25:42 PM

From the time federally appointed counsel in Reno filed their state habeas briefs (state exhaustion petition and traverse) until the time the California Supreme Court issued its decision, how many years elapsed?

Unlike folks like Kent and Bill would have people believe, the delay and expense in capital litigation is not only attributable to defense attorneys.

Among other issues, there simply are not enough judges on the California Supreme Court to handle the sheer volume of capital appellate work.

Posted by: Switch Back | Nov 7, 2012 6:53:30 PM

Switch Back --

Do you deny any of the facts set forth in Kent's first paragraph?

Do you honestly think a 143 claim habeas petition could possibly have been filed in good faith?

In fact, it's a mockery of due process and you know it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2012 11:15:27 PM

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