A survey of all Death which resulted in the state about capital punishment, Row prisoners in California withdrawing its lethal injection last August, San Quentin produced a divided opinion protocol and closing News surveyed all 737 prisoners, including the women in Chowchilla.
Of the 715 men on Death Row in San Quentin, 68 responded to the survey and of the 22 women on Death Row in Chowchilla, 10 responded.
A sample of capital punishment supporters’ comments:
“Let’s start carrying out these executions!” said a 49-year-old man with 21 years on Death Row. “Governor Newsom had no business go- ing against the people’s will! What good is your vote/voice if people like Newsom will only silence your vote/voice? I guess the people don’t matter.”
A 67-year-old woman with 18 years on Death Row said, “The people voted for it! It should be upheld.”
A sample of capital punishment opponents’ comments:
“It is not a deterrent and is disproportionately used as a sentence against poor minorities as well as a scare tactic tool by politicians with an agenda other than public safety,” said a 45-year-old person with more than 20 years on Death Row. That person also said that the moratorium is “a positive step” and more needs to be done to end capital punishment.
The survey provided space for respondents to write “other” comments:
A majority of respondents (supporters of the death penalty and those in opposition) asked to change the living conditions on Death Row, e.g., better/hot food, more time out of cells, and self- help programs.
• Women’s average age: 54.3
• Women’s average years on Death Row: 20.6
• Men’s average age: 56.2
• Men’s average years on Death Row: 23.1
• Overall average age: 56.1
• Overall average time on Death Row: 22.7
As of April 1, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) reports that California leads the nation with the number of condemned prisoners— about twice the number of the next closest state, Florida.
DPIC also reports that since 1978, California spent more than $4 billion on the death penalty after considering pre-trial and trial costs, costs of automatic appeals and state habeas corpus petitions, costs of federal habeas corpus appeals, and costs of incarceration on Death Row.
California rejected two initiatives to repeal the death penalty by a vote in 2012 and 2016; in 2016, it adopted another proposal to expedite the appeal process.
The anonymous survey asked:
• What is your opinion on capital punishment?
• Do you favor Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on capital punishment in CA • What is your age?
• How many years have you been on Death Row?
The survey gave participants five options on their opinion on the death penalty: Strongly agree that capital punishment ought to be a punishment
25% men 10% women 23.1% overall
Agree that capital punishment ought to be a punishment
20% men 30% women
No opinion about it
0% men 0% women
Disagree that capital punishment ought to be a punishment 7.35% men 10%women 6.4% overall
Strongly disagree that capital punishment ought to be a punishment
47.1% men 60% women 48.7 overall
Regarding the moratorium, the survey asked:
Strongly agree capital punishment ought to be ended in California 52.2% men 60%women 53.2 overall
Agree that capital punishment ought to be ended in California 1.5% men 10% women 2.6 overall
No opinion about it
3% men 0% women 2.6 overall
Disagree capital punishment ought to be ended in California
16.4% men 20% women 16.9 overall
Strongly disagree capital punishment ought to be ended in California
21.8% overall 0% overall
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