Friday, September 30, 2011

Two-Thirds of Californians Support Death Penalty

More than two-thirds of California voters – 68 percent – favor keeping the death penalty, a new poll found, with 27 percent favoring abolition and 5 percent expressing no opinion, according to the Sacramento Bee.

"We've polled on this for 55 years," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told the Bee. "It's changed a little here and there, but just removing the death penalty as a potential punishment is opposed. That's pretty clear."

Death penalty opponents launched an effort in August to replace capital punishment with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, something they said would save the state millions of dollars each year.

Despite that, those in favor of abolishing it say they believe they can convince voters that the death penalty is too costly and should be replaced with a sentence that guarantees a prisoner will remain incarcerated for life, reported the Bee.

"I think there's a decent chance," Sacramento attorney Don Heller told the Bee.  Heller wrote the voter-approved measure that reinstated the death penalty in California in 1976 and who now supports abolishing it. In announcing their ballot measure campaign in August, opponents of capital punishment said California spends $184 million annually on the death penalty.

But crime-victim advocate Harriet Salarno scoffed at the argument that the death penalty is too costly, saying the costs are increased by opponents pushing for repeated legal appeals. She added that the latest poll results simply confirm what California voters have supported for years, reported the Bee.

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