California voters will have the opportunity to decide whether the state should end the death penalty this November, MSNBC is reporting. More than 800,000 people signed a petition to put the country’s largest death row on the ballot.
If voters vote to end capital punishment, it would be replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentences of inmates who are currently on death role would be changed to life in prison without parole.
Supporters of overturning capital punishment say it would save California tens of millions of dollars, which could be redirected to other areas of law enforcement, including murder and rape cases. One such supporter is Jeanne Woodford, a former San Quentin State Prison warden who now leads the anti-capital punishment group Death Penalty Focus. Woodford, who oversaw four executions while serving as warden, said the propistion’s time has come.
California overturned capital punishment once before, but in 1978, it was reinstated. Since then, 13 people have been executed, according to Death Penalty Focus. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that each execution costs approximately $308 million, totaling $4 billion for all 13 executions.
The move towards ending capital punishment has been on-going for several years. A U.S. District judge halted all executions in 2006, fearing they resulted in unnecessary pain. A Superior Court judge rejected the state’s new lethal injection protocols in December, because officials hadn’t considered a one-drug method used in other states.
Written by: Karen Benardello