Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Three states will be voting on the death penalty in November

California is among three where voters will make decisions on capital punishment, reported The Associated Press.
California's ballot initiatives — one would repeal capital punishment, the other would speed up appeals so convicted murderers are actually executed — are fueled by those who agree only that the current system is broken, leaving murder victims' kin grieving and the condemned languishing on death row.
Meanwhile, voters in Nebraska will be asked whether they want to reinstate the death penalty and Oklahoma residents will decide whether to make it harder to abolish it.
In California, more than 900 convicted murderers have been sent to death row since 1978 — but only 13 have been executed in the state. Many more have died of natural causes and no one has been put to death in more than a decade after a judge ordered an overhaul to the state's lethal injection procedure.
The votes for the three states come amid an evolution for capital punishment in the U.S.
Executions have mostly been in decline since the turn of the century and last year reached their lowest level in 25 years, with 28 prisoners killed. Capital punishment has been either legislatively or judicially repealed in eight states since 2000, according to Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
The referendum to repeal California's death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole is a repeat of a 2012 ballot measure that failed 52 percent to 48 percent. Only voters in Arizona and twice in Oregon have repealed the death penalty and both states later reversed course to reinstate it.
The California repeal effort is supported by defense lawyers plus luminaries including former President Jimmy Carter, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.
Proponents of Proposition 62 argue eliminating it would save California $150 million a year, mostly in reduced legal fees plus cheaper prison costs since death row inmates who get single cells could be double-bunked. California's finance director has estimated the proposed reforms to speed up the death penalty could save the state $30 million annually.
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