Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Increases the portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution.
— Repealing the Death Penalty — Death PenaltyInitiative Statute —
State of CaliforniaProp. 62 — Repealing the Death Penalty Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required
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The way it is now
Under current law, some prisoners convicted of first-degree murder may be sentenced to death. Because of legal challenges to the current method of execution by lethal injection California has not executed a prisoner since 2006. There are 748 prisoners currently waiting to be executed on “death row.” Almost all prisoners are involved in different kinds of appeals to their death sentences, leading to multiple court proceedings after their original conviction.
What if it passes?
The death penalty would be eliminated. The maximum penalty for first-degree murder would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prisoners currently on death row would have their sentences changed to life in prison. All prisoners convicted of murder, including those serving life in prison, would be required to work. The amount of money that could be deducted from inmates’ pay would also increase from 50 to 60 percent. This money would be used to pay any debts owed to victims and their families.
There would be cost savings from changes to murder trials, court appeals and getting rid of death row at state prisons. The state would save around $150 million annually within a few years, including $55 million spent fighting death penalty appeals each year.
People FOR say
- Getting rid of the death penalty would save the state millions of dollars in costs.
- This is the only way to make sure that no innocent person is ever executed in California.
People AGAINST say
- We need the strongest possible punishment for the most serious first-degree murderers.
- The pay that inmates would put toward victims’ families cannot make up for the lost life.
Should the death penalty in California be repealed and replaced with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole?
Currently, people convicted of a first-degree murder charge that includes “special circumstances,” such as multiple victims, hate crimes, or killing for financial gain, can be sentenced either to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole or to death. Two trials are required in order to sentence someone to death: one to establish guilt and one to decide the penalty. Death-penalty convictions are always automatically appealed, and they may also go through a second stage of appeals in higher courts, a process that can take 15–25 years. People who cannot afford counsel are provided taxpayer-funded counsel both for trial and for appeals at taxpayers’ expense.
Like other prisoners, death row inmates are generally required to work, though sometimes they are exempted. A percentage of their earnings may be taken to pay any reparations that they owe to their victims’ families. There are currently 748 people on death row in California. Because the state’s lethal-injection protocols are currently under legal review, no executions have taken place since 2006.
Prop. 62 would end the death penalty in California and would retroactively apply to inmates currently on death row. Their sentences would automatically be changed to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Any currently pending appeals not related to the death penalty in these cases would be sent to the lower courts responsible for hearing non-death-penalty appeals.
All inmates sentenced to life without parole would be required to work, and the maximum amount of their earnings that could be used for reparations would be raised from 50 to 60 percent.
The Legislative Analyst estimates that Prop. 62 would save the state approximately $150 million annually. These savings would result from shorter trials, fewer appeals, and reduced prison costs based on the elimination of separate death row facilities.
- Since 1978, California has sentenced 930 people to death but performed only 13 executions, at an average cost of $384 million per execution
- Abolishing the death penalty will save the state $150 million every year.
- Victims’ families will achieve closure with the end of the long process of death penalty trials and appeals.
- Abolishing the death penalty removes the risk that innocent people may be executed.
- The death penalty system is broken, but ending it rewards murderers. The system should be mended, not ended.
- Changing the time-consuming and expensive appeals process is the best way to fix the death penalty and save taxpayers money.
- The people on death row are the worst of criminals and deserve the death penalty.
- Prop. 62 jeopardizes public safety and denies justice and closure to victims’ families.
- Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
- Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death.
- States that persons found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole must work while in prison as prescribed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- Increases portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution.
SUMMARY OF LEGISLATIVE ANALYST’S ESTIMATE OF NET STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT FISCAL IMPACT:
- Net ongoing reduction in state and county costs related to murder trials, legal challenges to death sentences, and prisons of around $150 million annually within a few years. This estimate could be higher or lower by tens of millions of dollars, depending on various factors.
Murder Punishable by Death
First degree murder is generally defined as the unlawful killing of a human being that (1) is deliberate and premeditated or (2) takes place while certain other crimes are committed, such as kidnapping. It is punishable by a life sentence in state prison with the possibility of being released by the state parole board after a minimum of 25 years. However, current state law makes first degree murder punishable by death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when “special circumstances” of the crime have been charged and proven in court. Existing state law identifies a number of special circumstances that can be charged, such as in cases when the murder was carried out for financial gain or when more than one murder was committed.
Death Penalty Proceedings
Death Penalty Trials Can Consist of Two Phases. The first phase of a murder trial where the prosecutor seeks a death sentence involves determining whether the defendant is guilty of murder and any special circumstances. If the defendant is found guilty and a special circumstance is proven, the second phase involves determining whether the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole should be imposed. These murder trials result in costs to the state trial courts. In addition, counties incur costs for the prosecution of these individuals as well as the defense of individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Since the current death penalty law was enacted in California in 1978, 930 individuals have received a death sentence. In recent years, an average of about 20 individuals annually have received death sentences.
Legal Challenges to Death Sentences. Under current state law, death penalty verdicts are automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court. In these “direct appeals,” the defendants’ attorneys argue that violations of state law or federal constitutional law took place during the trial, such as evidence improperly being included or excluded from the trial. If the California Supreme Court confirms the conviction and death sentence, the defendant can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. In addition to direct appeals, death penalty cases ordinarily involve extensive legal challenges in both state and federal courts. These challenges, which are commonly referred to as “habeas corpus” petitions, involve factors of the case that are different from those considered in direct appeals (such as the claim that the defendant’s attorney was ineffective). All of these legal challenges—measured from when the individual receives a death sentence to when the individual has completed all state and federal legal challenge proceedings—can take a couple of decades to complete in California.
The state currently spends about $55 million annually on the legal challenges that follow death sentences. This funding supports the California Supreme Court as well as attorneys employed by the state Department of Justice who seek to uphold death sentences while cases are being challenged in the courts. In addition, it also supports various state agencies that are tasked with providing representation to individuals who have received a sentence of death but cannot afford legal representation.
Implementation of the Death Penalty
Housing of Condemned Inmates. As of April 2016, of the 930 individuals who received a death sentence since 1978, 15 have been executed, 103 have died prior to being executed, 64 have had their sentences reduced by the courts, and 748 are in state prison with death sentences. The vast majority of the 748 condemned inmates are at various stages of the direct appeal or habeas corpus petition process. Condemned male inmates generally are required to be housed at San Quentin State Prison (on death row), while condemned female inmates are housed at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. The state currently has various security regulations and procedures that result in increased security costs for these inmates. For example, inmates under a death sentence generally are handcuffed and escorted at all times by one or two officers while outside their cells. In addition, unlike most offenders, condemned inmates are currently required to be placed in separate cells.
Executions Currently Halted by Courts. The state uses lethal injection to execute condemned inmates. Because of legal issues surrounding the state’s lethal injection procedures, executions have not taken place since 2006. The state is currently in the process of developing procedures to allow for executions to resume.
Impartial analysis / Proposal
Elimination of Death Penalty for First Degree Murder. Under this measure, no offender could be sentenced to death by the state for first degree murder. Instead, the most serious penalty available would be a prison term of life without the possibility of being released by the state parole board. (There is another measure on this ballot—Proposition 66—that would maintain the death penalty but seeks to shorten the time that the legal challenges to death sentences take.)
Resentencing of Inmates With Death Sentences to Life Without the Possibility of Parole. The measure also specifies that offenders currently sentenced to death would not be executed and instead would be resentenced to a prison term of life without the possibility of parole. This measure also allows the California Supreme Court to transfer all of its existing death penalty direct appeals and habeas corpus petitions to the state’s Courts of Appeal or trial courts. These courts would resolve any remaining issues unrelated to the death sentence—such as claims of innocence.
Inmate Work and Payments to Crime Victim Requirements. Current state law generally requires that inmates—including murderers—work while they are in prison. State prison regulations allow for some exceptions to these work requirements, such as for inmates who pose too great a security risk to participate in work programs. In addition, inmates may be required by the courts to make payments to victims of crime. This measure specifies that every person found guilty of murder must work while in state prison and have their pay deducted for any debts they owe to victims of crime, subject to state regulations. Because the measure does not change state regulations, existing prison practices related to inmate work requirements would not necessarily be changed. In addition, the measure increases from 50 percent to 60 percent the maximum amount that may be deducted from the wages of inmates sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for any debts owed to victims of crime. This provision would also apply to individuals who are resentenced under the measure from death to life without the possibility of parole.
The measure would have a number of fiscal effects on the state and local governments. The major fiscal effects of the measure are discussed below.
Court Proceedings. This measure would reduce state and county costs associated with some murder cases that would otherwise have been eligible for the death penalty under current law. These cases would typically be less expensive if the death penalty was no longer an option, for two primary reasons. First, the duration of some trials would be shortened. This is because there would no longer be a separate phase to determine whether the death penalty is imposed. Other aspects of murder trials could also be shortened. For example, jury selection time for some trials could be reduced as it would no longer be necessary to remove potential jurors who are unwilling to impose the death penalty. Second, the elimination of the death penalty would reduce the costs incurred by counties for prosecutors and public defenders for some murder cases. This is because these agencies generally use more attorneys in cases where a death sentence is sought and incur greater expenses related to investigations and other preparations for the sentencing phase in such cases.
County Jails. County jail costs could also be reduced because of the measure’s effect on murder trials. Persons held for trial on murder charges, particularly cases that could result in a death sentence, ordinarily remain in county jail until the completion of their trial and sentencing. As some murder cases are shortened due to the elimination of the death penalty, persons convicted of murder would be sent to state prison earlier than they otherwise would be. Such an outcome would reduce county jail costs and increase state prison costs.
Summary of Impacts Related to Murder Trials. In total, the measure could reduce annual state and county costs for murder trials by several tens of millions of dollars on a statewide basis. The actual reduction would depend on various factors, including the number of death penalty trials that would otherwise have occurred in the absence of the measure. In addition, the amount of this reduction could be partially offset to the extent that the elimination of the death penalty reduced the incentive for offenders to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence in some murder cases. If additional cases went to trial instead of being resolved through plea agreements, the state and counties would experience additional costs for support of courts, prosecution, and defense attorneys, as well as county jails. The extent to which this would occur is unknown. In most cases, the state and counties would likely redirect available resources resulting from the above cost reductions to other court and law enforcement activities.
Legal Challenges to Death Sentences
Over time, the measure would reduce state expenditures by the California Supreme Court and the state agencies participating in the legal challenges to death sentences. These reduced costs would reach about $55 million annually. However, these reduced costs likely would be partially offset in the short run because some state expenditures would probably continue until the courts resolved all cases for inmates who previously received death sentences. In the long run, there would be relatively minor state and local costs—possibly totaling a couple million dollars annually—for hearing appeals from additional offenders receiving sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
The elimination of the death penalty would affect state prison costs in different ways. On the one hand, its elimination would result in a somewhat higher prison population and higher costs as formerly condemned inmates are sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Given the length of time that inmates currently spend on death row, these costs would likely not be significant. On the other hand, these added costs likely would be more than offset by reduced costs from not housing hundreds of inmates on death row. As previously discussed, it is generally more expensive to house an inmate under a death sentence than an inmate subject to life without the possibility of parole, due to the higher security measures used to house and supervise inmates sentenced to death.
The combined effect of these fiscal impacts would likely result in net state savings for the operation of the state’s prison system in the low tens of millions of dollars annually. These savings, however, could be higher or lower depending on the rate of executions that would have otherwise occurred.
Other Fiscal Effects
Prison Construction. The measure could also affect future prison construction costs by allowing the state to avoid future facility costs associated with housing an increasing number of death row inmates. The extent of any such savings would depend on the future growth in the condemned inmate population, how the state chose to house condemned inmates in the future, and the future growth in the general prison population.
Effect on Murder Rate. To the extent that the prohibition on the use of the death penalty has an effect on the incidence of murder in California, the measure could affect state and local government criminal justice expenditures. The resulting fiscal impact, if any, is unknown and cannot be estimated.
Summary of Fiscal Impacts
In total, we estimate that this measure would reduce net state and county costs related to murder trials, legal challenges to death sentences, and prisons. These reduced costs would likely be around $150 million annually within a few years. This reduction in costs could be higher or lower by tens of millions of dollars, depending on various factors.
YES vote means
No offenders could be sentenced to death by the state for first degree murder. The most serious penalty available would be a prison term of life without the possibility of parole. Offenders who are currently under a sentence of death would be resentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
NO vote means
Certain offenders convicted for first degree murder could continue to be sentenced to death. There would be no change for offenders currently under a sentence of death.
California’s death penalty system has failed. Taxpayers have spent more than $5 billion since 1978 to carry out 13 executions—a cost of $384 million per execution. The death penalty is an empty promise to victims’ families and carries the unavoidable risk of executing an innocent person.
YES ON 62 REPLACES THIS COSTLY, FAILED SYSTEM WITH A STRICT LIFE SENTENCE AND ZERO CHANCE OF PAROLE
Under Prop. 62, the death penalty will be replaced with a strict life sentence. Those convicted of the worst crimes will NEVER be released. Instead of being housed in expensive private cells on death row, murderers will be kept with other maximum-security inmates.
WORK AND RESTITUTION
Criminals who would otherwise sit on death row and in courtrooms during the decades-long appeals guaranteed by the Constitution, will instead have to work and pay restitution to their victims’ families.
REAL CLOSURE FOR VICTIMS’ FAMILIES
“California’s death penalty system is a long, agonizing ordeal for our family. As my sister’s killer sits through countless hearings, we continually relive this tragedy. The death penalty is an empty promise of justice. A life sentence without parole would bring real closure.”—Beth Webb, whose sister was murdered with seven other people in a mass-shooting at an Orange County hair salon.
HUGE COST SAVINGS CONFIRMED BY IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS
The state’s independent Legislative Analyst confirmed Prop. 62 will save $150 million per year. A death row sentence costs 18 times more than life in prison. Resources can be better spent on education, public safety, and crime prevention that actually works.
DEATH PENALTY SYSTEM FLAWS RUN DEEP
California has not executed anyone in 10 years because of serious problems. For nearly 40 years, every attempted fix has failed to make the death penalty system work. It’s simply unworkable.
“I prosecuted killers using California’s death penalty law, but the high costs, endless delays and total ineffectiveness in deterring crime convinced me we need to replace the death penalty system with life in prison without parole.”—John Van de Kamp, former Los Angeles District Attorney and former California Attorney General.
THE RISK OF EXECUTING AN INNOCENT PERSON IS REAL
DNA technology and new evidence have proven the innocence of more than 150 people on death row after they were sentenced to death. In California, 66 people had their murder convictions overturned because new evidence showed they were innocent. Carlos DeLuna was executed in 1989, but an independent investigation later proved his innocence. Executing an innocent person is a mistake that can never be undone.
FORMER DEATH PENALTY ADVOCATES: YES ON 62
“I led the campaign to bring the death penalty back to California in 1978. It was a costly mistake. Now I know we just hurt the victims’ families we were trying to help and wasted taxpayer dollars. The death penalty cannot be fixed. We need to replace it, lock up murderers for good, make them work, and move on.”—Ron Briggs, led the campaign to create California’s death penalty system. www.YesOn62.com
JEANNE WOODFORD, Former Death Row Warden
DONALD HELLER, Author of California’s Death Penalty Law
BETH WEBB, Sister of Victim Murdered in 2011
Join us in VOTING NO on PROPOSITION 62!
Let’s be clear what Proposition 62 does.
Proposition 62 says the worst of the worst murderers get to stay alive, at the taxpayers’ expense, decades after committing their horrible crimes, and mocking the pain of their victims’ families.
The death penalty is reserved for only the worst murderers like child killers, rape/torture murderers, serial murderers, and cop killers. Just 1–2% of about 2,000 murders in California annually end up with a death sentence.
Proposition 62 says these most heinous crimes should have no higher level of punishment. We disagree. For the very worst criminals, there needs to be a death penalty. We all know California’s death penalty system is broken. Death row inmates are now able to file one frivolous appeal after another, denying justice.
The answer is to MEND, NOT END California’s death penalty laws.
Prosecutors, law enforcement, and the families of murder victims OPPOSE PROPOSITION 62 because it jeopardizes public safety, denies justice and closure to victims’ families, and rewards the most horrible killers. The backers of Proposition 62 want you to believe they are protecting wrongly-convicted death row prisoners from being executed.
But in a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Jerry Brown, “a former Attorney General, said there are no innocent inmates on California’s death row.” (3/7/12)
The backers of Proposition 62 say it will save taxpayers money. WHO ARE THEY FOOLING?
Under Prop. 62, taxpayers are on the hook to feed, clothe, house, guard, and provide healthcare to brutal killers until they die of old age. Even give them a heart transplant! That’s why Mike Genest, former California Finance Director, says, “Prop. 62 will cost over $100 million.”
If Proposition 62 doesn’t protect victims and doesn’t protect taxpayers, just who does Proposition 62 protect?
Prop. 62 protects Charles Ng, a brutal serial killer who kidnapped families, tortured/killed children in front of their parents, killed the father, and then repeatedly raped the mother before killing her.
Ng committed his crimes over 30 years ago, delayed his trial for nearly 15 years with appeals, and was finally tried, convicted, and sentenced to death almost 20 years ago. He’s still on death row, filing appeals to delay his punishment, long after his victims were silenced forever.
Who else does Proposition 62 protect?
Richard Allen Davis, who kidnapped, raped, and tortured 12-year-old Polly Klaas.
Serial killer Robert Rhoads, who kidnapped, raped, and tortured 8-year-old Michael Lyons before stabbing him 70 times.
And hundreds more like them.
California’s death row inmates include the killers of:
- Over 1,000 MURDER VICTIMS.
- 226 CHILDREN.
- 43 PEACE OFFICERS.
- 294 victims who were RAPED or TORTURED before being killed.
The American Civil Liberties Union supports repealing the death penalty; the very same people who file all the frivolous appeals that have bogged down the system. Now they are using the problems they created to argue the death penalty should be repealed.
DON’T BE FOOLED. Join us and VOTE NO on PROPOSITION 62!
Visit www.NoProp62YesProp66.com for more information.
MIKE RAMOS, District Attorney of San Bernardino County
MARC KLAAS, Father of 12-year-old Murder Victim Polly Klaas
MIKE DURANT, President
Peace Officers Research Association of California
Replies to Arguments FOR
California’s death penalty HASN’T failed; it was intentionally sabotaged.
Key supporters of Proposition 62—like the ACLU—have spent decades undermining the death penalty; now they argue for repeal.
For the sake of victims, DON’T LET THEM WIN!
We all agree that the death penalty in California isn’t working. The solution is to MEND, NOT END, the death penalty. California’s frontline prosecutors and almost all our 58 elected District Attorneys have a plan to fix it. STARTING WITH VOTING NO ON PROPOSITION 62!
The system is expensive because BRUTAL KILLERS file endless, frivolous appeals, spending decades on death row. Prop. 62 backers want you to believe that granting these thugs lifetime healthcare, housing, meals, and privileges will save money? WHO ARE THEY FOOLING? They say we don’t need a death penalty. Really? There’s about 2,000 murders in California annually. Approximately 15—the worst of the worst—receive a death sentence. Who are they?
- MASS MURDERERS/SERIAL KILLERS.
- Murderers who RAPED/TORTURED victims.
- CHILD KILLERS.
Ask the proponents of Proposition 62: if a murderer sentenced to “Life Without Parole” escapes and murders again, or kills a prison guard, what sentence will they give him? Another life without parole?
The proponent of Prop. 62—an actor—wants you to believe the movie script. But let’s be clear, there are no innocents on California’s death row. They cite one case from Texas from 1989, still under dispute. California has never executed an innocent, and never will.
Join victims’ families and law enforcement and VOTE NO ON PROP. 62!
MICHELE HANISEE, President
Association of Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles County
MARC KLAAS, Father of 12-year-old Murder Victim Polly Klaas
LAREN LEICHLITER, President
San Bernardino County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Replies to Arguments AGAINST
YES ON 62 REQUIRES A STRICT LIFE SENTENCE— WHY KEEP PAYING FOR A COSTLY, FAILED DEATH PENALTY SYSTEM?
Prop. 62 locks up the worst murderers for life and ends the huge cost of death row. These murderers will never be paroled or set free. They will have to work and pay restitution to the families of their victims.
Most of those sentenced to death already end up spending life in prison because 99% of death sentences are never carried out. Yet it costs 18 times more to house them on death row and pay for their attorneys than a strict life sentence without parole.
YES ON 62 SAVES $150 MILLION A YEAR
The state’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor—the Legislative Analyst—confirms Prop. 62 will save taxpayers $150 million every year. Read the analysis for yourself in this Voter Guide.
38 YEARS OF FAILURE
Opponents of Prop. 62 admit the death penalty system is broken. In fact, the death penalty advocates who created this system now admit it has failed, despite many attempts to fix it. Since 1978, taxpayers have spent $5 billion on the death penalty, yet over the last ten years there hasn’t been a single execution.
The long and costly appeals process is mandated by the Constitution so an innocent person isn’t wrongly executed. It can’t be changed. Vote YES on Prop. 62 to save hundreds of millions of dollars and keep vicious killers locked up, working and paying restitution to the families of their victims.
ROBYN BARBOUR, Grandmother was Murdered in 1994
JOHN DONOHUE, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Law
Stanford Law School
RON BRIGGS, Led Campaign to Bring the Death Penalty Back in 1978
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- League of Women Voters of California
- NAACP California
- The Orange County Register
- The San Diego Union-Tribune
- The Mercury News
- San Francisco Chronicle
- Peace and Freedom Party
- Los Angeles Times
- Libertarian Party of California
- Green Party of California
- California Democratic Party
- See more endorsements here.
Yes on Prop. 62
No on Prop. 62
Below are the top 10 contributors that gave money to committees supporting or opposing the ballot measures.