CaliforniaCEDP's blog

The Good Fight

By: Donald Ray Young

Proposition 34, the Savings Accountability and Full Enforcement Act, failed by a narrow 52-48 percent split. Just enough to expose the execution chamber. But not enough for us to forget the wise people on the right side of history – the 48 percent. Death Penalty Focus, American Civil Liberties Union, and Friends Committee on Legislation of California fought the good fight, unified by dedicated organizations, groups and individuals. To the hundreds of volunteers who collected over 800,000 signatures to put the SAFE Act on the ballot. To the people who graciously sacrificed their time, energy, and treasure, we honor you and your commitment to abolition. Thank you!

Are lesser evils progress or collateral damage? It may depend where you are standing

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Jerry Elster

If someone were to ask me why Proposition 34 (to end the death penalty in California) didn't pass, my answer would be that 34 was authored to self destruct. It boasters the idea of saving millions of tax dollars over the possibility of executing an innocent person. The passage of 34 would have stripped condemned prisoners of mandatory appeal remedies. These remedies are supposed to act as a check and balance system to assure that the state does not execute an innocent person. Whether it is death by execution or the slow, silent, and hopeless death through Life Without The Possibility to Parole (LWOP), it's still death. I would have voted for 34 as a lesser of two evils; reasoning that an innocent person would have the opportunity to fight for his/her freedom.

Why did death penalty repeal fail in California?

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Lily Hughes

Proposition 34 (or the SAFE Act), the ballot measure that would have replaced the death penalty in California with life without parole (LWOP), was narrowly defeated there on November 6, 2012.  A de facto moratorium remains in place as the courts in California continue to wrestle over the state's execution protocol.

53% of people voted against the measure, with 47% voting in favor.  This is a far cry from the 70% of people that were in favor of reinstating the death penalty in California in 1978.  The significant shift in public opinion against the death penalty is incredibly encouraging for abolitionists both nationally and in California.

Death Penalty Survives In California, But Three-Strikes Law Cut Back

Examining the California SAFE Act

Credit: Eric Risberg / AP Photo
The new lethal-injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif., on Sept. 21, 2010. Fifty-three percent of California voters rejected Proposition 34 on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, choosing to retain the death penalty instead of replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By: David R. Dow

Why did the state’s voters choose to soften a notoriously harsh punishment while upholding an even harsher one? It’s the difference between economics and morals, writes David Dow.

When 53 percent of California voters rejected Proposition 34 on Election Day, they were choosing to retain the death penalty instead of replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The same day, a larger percentage of the California electorate voted to radically reduce the number of felons serving life sentences under the state’s so-called “three-strikes” law. In both cases, the punishment costs the state dearly—either because of years of fighting an inmate’s appeals or years of housing and feeding him. How could the same voters care so much about saving money in one context but be so indifferent to the squandering of it in another?

Are you for abolishing the death penalty but thinking of voting against Proposition 34?

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Douglas Scott Mickey

A majority yes-vote on Proposition 34 abolishes California's death penalty and replaces it with life in prison without possibility of parole (LWOP)—retroactively for the 729 men and women currently awaiting execution on California's death row. A handful of death row prisoners, family members, associates, and an appellate attorney have been making news by publicly denouncing and/or advocating a no-vote on Prop34. In all the so-called left-wing arguments for why people against the death penalty should cast a no-vote on Proposition 34 there's been a deafening silence about the consequences if this ballot initiative fails to pass: dozens of men and women will be executed long before California gets another opportunity to abolish the death sentence.

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