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Originally posted at Fair and Unbalanced

The SAFE California Act (http://www.safecalifornia.org), the initiative to replace California's multi-billion dollar death penalty with life in prison with no possibility of parole, has qualified for the November ballot.  This is epic.

With a death row population over 720, it is undisputed that California's death penalty system is broken beyond repair.  Despite over 30 years of sentencing more and more people to death, only about 1% of them have actually been executed –  a total of 13 executions since 1978, and none since 2006. It is a costly (an exhaustive study concluded that "California taxpayers have spent roughly $4 billion), time-consuming, unreliable and unworkable system that serves no useful purpose. Meanwhile, it drains judicial resources and diverts much-needed funds from truly effective public safety programs.

When it passes, SAFE California will require those convicted of murder to work and pay restitution to victim families through the victim compensation fund. And it sets aside $100 million in budget savings for local law enforcement for the investigation of unsolved rape and murder cases. Because while we spend time and resources on those already tried and convicted, in an average year, 46% of murders cases in California remain unsolved and 56% of reported rapes.

Recent polls show California voters are ready to replace the death penalty, and join a nationwide trend.  (Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the fifth state in five years to replace the death penalty, following Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.)  Both the Public Policy Institute of California and Field Poll have found that when given the option, more California voters opted for life in prison without the possibility of parole over the death penalty.

As Jeanne Woodford, the former Warden at San Quentin State Prison, and current Executive Director at Death Penalty Focus, put it, this is a "game-changer of massive proportions."

SAFE California is a historic campaign that will change California forever – for the better. Once we replace the death penalty in November, we will save millions in public safety dollars and California will never again risk executing an innocent person. We’ll soon have the opportunity to use  hundreds of millions of dollars in budget savings to improve personal safety for families across our state.

Originally posted to Lovechilde on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Abolish the Death Penalty.

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Comment Preferences

  •  cool (6+ / 0-)

    time for an end to this barbarism

    •  absolutely (5+ / 0-)

      and hopefully, with a state as big as cali on board, the death penalty will, well...die.

      Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

      by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:44:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't hurt to have this happen (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        where they make all the movies and teevee shows.  Cali cuts a big slice of cultural pie.

      •  Already has Illinois and New York (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        on board. All the wimpy Blue states. (Where's Massachusetts?)

        Kidding. I'm so on board with this. I've already told all my family and friends that should I ever be a victim of a heinous crime, I did not want my attacker to be executed. This makes it certain.

        LANDSLIDE bitches!

        by pucklady on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:00:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i always ask death penalty supporters (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pucklady, mythatsme

          if they could flip the switch themselves.  are they ready and willing to kill someone else in cold blood, because that's essentially what we're talking about.

          If you're gonna die, die with your boots on. If you're gonna try, well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

          by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:45:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Most will grandstand and say yes. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn

            Some actually would, probably.  Most wouldn't.  I like to hope, anyway.

            "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.." - John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961. We are the 99%.

            by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 12:40:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i find that the shock (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IndieGuy

              of putting it to them like that really gives them pause.

              If you're gonna die, die with your boots on. If you're gonna try, well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

              by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 04:04:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Too often out here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    the knuckle draggers say "An Eye for an eye". They need to be reminded that Jesus thought that sentiment wrong, and proposed a correction. Matthew 5: 38 - 40.

    Come to think of it, MAtthew 5 : 39 might be a good response for some of those "Stand your ground" backers.

    "Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?" - Elie Wiesel

    by HugoDog on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:58:47 AM PDT

    •  HugoDog - no they don't (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Samer, tytalus, Dave in Northridge, grover

      The key to passing this proposition is to keep  a singular focus on the economics. The people who have a moral objection to the death penalty will vote for repeal. For the majority of Californian's who support the death penalty we need to appeal to their conservative fiscal views. "The appeals process in California has become so long and expensive that it makes no economic sense." That needs to be the pitch for this to win in November.  

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:04:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  VClib - I think it is mixed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        Obviously those who morally oppose the death penalty will vote to get rid of it. And I think you are partially right, the economic issue will sway some of the people who like it. But I can't tell you how many times down here in SoCal I've heard as the only justification for the death penalty "but the Bible says An Eye For an Eye..."

        "Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?" - Elie Wiesel

        by HugoDog on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:13:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hugo - we just need to convert some of them (0+ / 0-)

          I do think that some people who favor the death penalty will be persuaded by the economic argument. And given that all ad budgets have limits I think the focus needs to be on the economics. If it was possible I agree the "eye for an eye" crowd would love to shorten the appeals path to save money rather than abolish the death penalty.  However, we just need some help at the margin and I think a targeted ad campaign could make a difference.  

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:10:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The counter-argument is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HugoDog

        "So then, let's shorten the appeals process and stop giving these monsters the chance to game the system at our expense."

        The economic argument is a good "and also..." bullet point towards the bottom of the list, but it's not convincing on its own. People need to first feel uneasy about the death penalty before the fiscal argument will take hold. Otherwise, death penalty supporters will harden with an "expensive but worth it" sentiment.

        I offer this prediction: if backers focus singularly on economics, they will fail in the same way that No on 8 failed. No on 8 failed to make a moral case, and instead went for focus group tested arguments.

        •  A comment on a local news story about this issue (0+ / 0-)
          "Abolish it? Hell, I want them to put in an Express Lane! How much is it costing you and me to feed, clothe, entertain and medicate Charles manson and his Death Row buddies? Let's make it an event: line up 12 metal chairs, wire them all up together, and sit a dozen murderers in them. Throw the switch, over and over. Voila! 12 empty prison cells, now available."
          http://www.10news.com/...

          "Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?" - Elie Wiesel

          by HugoDog on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:40:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  i think that's the angle to take (0+ / 0-)

        in a targeted sense, especially with older white men in the valley and greater LA. but turning out the anti-DP voters, esp. in the bay area, will also be a big part of any winning coalition.

    •  Most Californians who endorse the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HugoDog

      Death penalty believe the system is irreparably broken and outrageously expensive.

      I like to point out to them that the Green River Killer worked a deal to tell authorities where he buried bodies in exchange for not getting the death penalty. Best deal they could have made. He fell into a hole as far as the public is aware. No thousands of appeals, no public appearances by his attorneys. He.Is. Simply.Gone.

      That's what we need here in CA.  And I think that conservatives who want revenge would gladly settle for the same sort of treatment. They just hate that Charlie Manson is still a celebrity. We need to communicate with them (on their terms) that Manson is the exception that proves the rule. Who ever hears about Scott Peterson or David Westerfield, who had massive publicized cases too, other than their appeals?

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:22:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer

    Since the public SUPPORTS the death penalty overwhelmingly (over 60% still favor it) - I fail to see how this is good news.

    Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

    by GayIthacan on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:58:56 AM PDT

    •  see my comment above (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Samer, bythesea, grover, IndieGuy

      This can be won on the economic argument.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:04:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep, when we're laying off cops and firefighters (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HugoDog, VClib, IndieGuy

        And cops are being killed in the streets of Stockton (and other cities) at increasingly high rates, the question is: do you want to pay for appeals or do you want to put more cops back on the streets?

        We don't call them knuckle-draggers. We don't expound on why all those appeals are absolutely necessary.

        We just put the choices on the table.
         A. Death Penalty with lengthy appeals process
        B. more cops, teachers, firefighters

        And we tell them, if we don't have cops, they won't be able to arrest murderers and investigate crimes.

        But go ahead:  choose.

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:29:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If 60% is overwhelming... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, bythesea

      Then the data here might interest you, although it would be better if there was more current polling data on death penalty alternatives. But the data also backs up VClib's point.

      Costs emerged as an important concern for a strong majority of Americans. Sixty-eight percent said cost was a very or somewhat convincing argument against the death penalty. Voters ranked emergency services, creating jobs, police and crime prevention, schools and libraries, public health care services, and roads and transportation as more important budget priorities than the death penalty.  

      "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

      by tytalus on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:19:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this isn't a national vote (0+ / 0-)

      the only public that matters here is the california general election electorate.

  •  The mindset the economic argument must overcome (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a comment from someone on Facebook about the fact that Florida saved nothing on drug testing welfare recipients:

    It's just the point that I can't work to pay for them to live if I do drugs, they shouldn't be able to receive that money if they do drugs. I don't care about "saving money". That's not what it's about. It's about principal [sic] and right and wrong.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

    by Samer on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:24:14 AM PDT

    •  You can't save people like this from themselves (0+ / 0-)

      If he's being honest, because my first question is how is it right to let children go hungry because of their parent's sins... What principles justify that?

       But I bet two years ago, he was squawking about it being all about wasting taxpayers' money.  

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:35:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we as a society (0+ / 0-)

    Have deemed someone as unfit to be live amongst us, (life without parole) then to keep them languishing in a prison for 70the years is a cruel and unusual punishment in my opinion. What we really need is a reform of the execution and appeals process.

  •  No, we need a reform of the parole process (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, tytalus

    Whatever reason they use to get people to vote to get rid of the death penalty, it needs to end.  Then we can concentrate on getting our prisons to become penitentiaries again.  Remember, not everyone on Death Row in California is Charles Manson, and there may even be an innocent or two involved.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:47:36 AM PDT

  •  I will be voting for this for sure (0+ / 0-)

    but is there any CA polling of this issue that indicates it may pass?  It's not a game-changer if it fails.

  •  this could actually pass (0+ / 0-)

    before 2010, i would have been skeptical, but if a liberal san francisco person of color anti-death penalty candidate for attorney general can beat a white male socially moderate law n' order former DA from LA in a supposedly republican wave election, i think the tide may have turned on the death penalty as well.

    especially when it can also be sold as cutting gummint expenses.

    best hopes for passing this initiative./ 2012 could be a really good election cycle for the left in CA, if this all plays out like i suspect it will.

  •  I think with the growing evidence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus

    that innocent people are on Death Row, this may gain traction.

  •  Thanks for this D and please keep us posted (0+ / 0-)

    in October and November?

    PLEASE ☺ - Help Stop Mitt the Pitts Romney from Stealing ☻ the POTUS

    by laserhaas on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 05:11:09 PM PDT

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