Many individuals who once adamantly fought for the death penalty are now fighting to abolish it by strongly backing Proposition 34.

Attorney, Donald Heller was responsible for the 1978 ballot that expanded the death penalty in California, and County Supervisor, Ronald Briggs worked to pass the ballot. Oddly enough, these 2 individuals are currently fighting to abolish the very law they worked so hard to pass, the death penalty.  These two individuals are fighting to pass Proposition 34 and abolish California’s death penalty sentence, not because of the usual moral reasons, but for cost related reasons.  Their argument is that California has spent “$4 billion since 1978 and executed 13 prisoners.”  They feel as though $4 billion is too much money spent on executing only 13 prisoners.  According to California's legislative analyst “annual savings from Proposition 34 could start at $100 million and reach $130 million.  The savings are attributed to cheaper trials, less expensive incarceration and fewer appeals.”

Often times, we (the general public) only hear one side of a story and blindly form our opinions.  So, I thought I’d give the readers of this blog some facts about the death penalty and proposition 34, so they could be better informed.

What is the Death Penalty?

  • The punishment administered to an individual convicted of a capital crime.
  • Capital crimes include murder or treason.
  • Methods of carrying out the death penalty include lethal injection, electric chair, and the gas chamber.
  • There can be no automatic imposition of the death penalty.
  • The jury must decide mitigating factors for death penalty.

California Death Penalty Statistics:

  • The death penalty law was passed in 1978.
  • 900 individuals have received the death sentence.
  • Only 14 of the 900 individuals have been executed.
  • Male inmates are housed at San Quentin State Prison.
  • Female inmates are housed at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.

Effects of Proposition 34:

  • Proposition 34 would abolish the death penalty as the maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder.
  • Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • It applies to persons already sentences to death.
  • Proposition 34 would mandate those found guilty of murder to work while in prison.
  • $100 million will go to law enforcement agencies for homicide and rape investigations.

To learn more about Proposition 34, click here.

What do you think?  Should Proposition 34 be adopted?