Voters to Decide on Two Opposing Death Penalty Measures in November

By Charles David Henry

California voters will decide again in November what to do with the death penalty. Two opposing initiatives with strong political and social ramifications will be on the ballot to abolish capital punishment or speed up executions.

Details of the measures are listed in an Aug. 12 story by politifact.com.

Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The initiative would apply retroactively to persons already sentenced to death, according to a July press release from the California legislative analyst and director of finance. It further 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 (CDCR).

All persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole would pay 60 percent of wages earned to any victim restitution fines or orders against them, the release noted.

They estimated the reduction in state and local government costs to be around $150 million annually within a few years due to the elimination of the death penalty.

Proposition 66 is aimed at eliminating lengthy delays between sentencing and executions. It would change procedures governing state court appeals and petitions challenging death penalty convictions and sentences.

It would designate Superior Courts for initial petitions and would limit successive petitions. This initiative would impose time limits on state court death-penalty review. It would also require appointed attorneys who take non-capital appeals to accept death penalty appeals.

California’s other voter-approved measures relating to the death penalty would become null and void if this measure receives more affirmative votes. The analysis says the fiscal impact on state and local government could be potentially increased by tens of millions of dollars annually for several years related to direct appeals and habeas corpus proceedings, with the fiscal impact of such costs being unknown in the longer run.

CDCR could potentially save tens of millions of dollars annually, the reports.

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