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Proposition 62: Repeal of the Death Sentence

Posted by Seth Chazin | Sep 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

Four years ago, California voters decided to keep the death penalty. On the 2016 ballot California voters once again are faced with deciding whether to abolish the executions or to speed them up by setting time limits for state court rulings and limiting the opportunity to appeal.

Two initiatives competing against one another—Proposition 62, to repeal the death penalty, and Prop. 66, to hasten it—will appear on the November 8 ballot.

Legislative action or court decisions have overturned the death penalty in 19 states.  As of 2016, the nationwide total of executions is the lowest they have been since 1991 at 20 or fewer.   49 death sentences were handed down last year in 2015 —14 in California, the most nationwide.  Drugs for lethal injection are scarce, and states have tested the limits of the law by purchasing lethal injection drugs from unregulated sources

Since 1973, more than 150 once condemned prisoners throughout the country, including five in California, have been exonerated, and subsequently set free and cleared of their charges. Instances such as these show how innocent people can be convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit

Capital punishment is most predominant in Southern California.  Most death sentences in California are issued in the following five counties:  Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Kern.

Currently, the state has around 750 prisoners on Death Row, the nation's largest.

Those supporting Prop. 62 and the repeal of the death penalty—civil rights groups, some religious organizations, and most Democrats, as well as some Republicans—are emphasizing how much money the state and taxpayers would save. According to analysts, Prop.62 would save the state $150 million a year by eliminating penalty-phase trials and appeals and transferring inmates from high-security imprisonment to the prison's general population.

Prop. 66, backed by police groups, most prosecutors, and the Republican Party seek to speed up capital punishment.  Prop. 66 have several flaws. The Supreme Court already has more than 300 death penalty appeals now waiting to be heard.  The five year deadline proposed by Prop 66 would turn it into a “death court” not allowing for any other civil and criminal cases to be heard. The measure does not include funding for additional staff on the high court and the already overworked trial courts. Most importantly, the speedy deadlines the measure calls for would further increase the likelihood that innocent people will be put to death by the State.

The death penalty is a flawed form of punishment and must be eliminated for good. It is inhumane and antithetical to any fair system of justice.  Most countries around the world as well as most states in the US have already eliminated the death penalty.  We should follow their lead and support and pass Prop 62.

For further reading:

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty

More on Prop.62 and Prop. 66 - CA Prop 62 - Repeal of the Death Penalty

Advocates Ask to End the Death Penalty- NBC 4

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson