Eye on the States: Will California Abolish the Death Penalty?



With the presidential election fast approaching, California is gearing up for another landmark vote; on November 6th citizens of the Golden State will cast their ballot on Proposition 34. Known as the SAFE California Act, the proposition aims to abolish the state’s death penalty and replace it with a life-sentence without the chance of parole. What makes Proposition 34 so important is that it will not only influence California’s own policy, it will also set an example for the nation.

The Reform Jewish Movement has been vocal in our opposition to capital punishment. In 1959 the Union for Reform Judaism proclaimed:

We believe that in the light of modern scientific knowledge and concepts of humanity, the resort to our continuation of capital punishment either by a state or by the national government is no longer morally justifiable.

We believe there is no crime for which the taking of human life by society is justified, and that it is the obligation of society to evolve other methods in dealing with crime. We pledge ourselves to join with like-minded Americans in trying to prevent crime by removal of its causes, and to foster modern methods of rehabilitation of the wrongdoer in the spirit of the Jewish tradition of tshuva (repentance).

Proposition 34 does more than just abolish the state death penalty. One clause would require any person found guilty of murder to work while in prison, allocating their wages to victim restitution fines. Additionally, the act would create a $100 million fund that would aid law enforcement agencies in their effort to solve homicide and rape cases. Although not stipulated in the proposition, if passed, the act is predicted to save California $130 million a year because of the high costs currently incurred by capital punishment and death row.

For both practical and moral reasons, we must act to ensure the passage of the SAFE California Act. If we are to advocate for the advancement of our values, and if we are to realize our ideals it is incumbent upon us to support Proposition 34 and to encourage our friends and family in California to work toward and vote for its passage.

For more information about how you can get involved, check the official campaign website.

Image courtesy of SAFE California

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Mikey Pasek

About Mikey Pasek

Mikey Pasek is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Philadelphia, PA, and is a graduate of Bates College. Follow Mikey on twitter @mikeypasek and on the web at www.michaelhpasek.com

3 Responses to “Eye on the States: Will California Abolish the Death Penalty?”

  1. Mikey Pasek

    Thank you all for your comments,I encourage you to look at our issue page on the Death Penalty, which provides links to organizations through which we informed our perspective at http://rac.org/advocacy/issues/issuedp/

  2. Prop. 34 proponents are perpetuating a huge FRAUD against California voters, knowing that with the millions of out-of-state dollars they can repeat their lies enough times that voters will begin to accept them. A Study by Judicial Watch concludes that Prop. 34 is “both disingenuous and deceptive.” Three former CA governors and every major law enforcement group in CA OPPOSE Pro. 34.

    Pro. 34 is dangerous, will cost taxpayers more, and was poorly thought through.

    Prop. 34 will NOT save money, but instead COST TAXPAYERS BILLIONS of dollars more in additional trials, prison changes, and escalating health care costs.

    Claims that Prop. 34 will save money are based upon a paper written by a former judge who has been advocating for abolishing the death penalty for decades (biased and inaccurate). A review of these numbers by the Legislative Analyst’s Office concludes that the assumptions supporting these claimed savings “may well be wrong.” Michael Genest, former State Of California Finance Director, found that these “savings claims are grossly exaggerated.” Also, the loss of the threat of the death penalty will substantially increase the total number of murder trials by taking away a major incentive for murderers to plead guilty.

    Prop. 34 ignores the escalating costs of medical care for life-time inmates. Prop. 34 will cost CA taxpayers billions more over the next several years. (It is these huge medical costs that are fueling the attack on life sentences under 3-strikes under Prop. 36.)

    Prop. 34 is DANGEROUS. Experts conclude that Pro. 34 will increase the number of murders in California. Criminals will be more brazen in their crimes without the death penalty. Also, there will be no deterrent for the 34,000 inmates already serving life from killing a guard or an inmate. They are already serving the maximum penalty.

    One of the key methods for “saving” money under Prop. 34 is to move death row inmates into the general population and house them from single-person cells with other inmates. One strong proponent of Prop. 34 admits this is unworkable– the risk of danger posed by mixing the prison population is too great, and would increase costs associated with such an arrangement.

    Life without parole is means they WILL GET OUT. Efforts are already being pursued by the same people supporting anti-punishment ballots and legislation to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving 25 years. Someone who has committed a brutal murder at age 20 could get out by age 45! Governors are also notorious for releasing inmates who should never be released. Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps.

    ARGUMENTS OF INNOCENCE BOGUS. Proponents can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. They can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. Quite simply, CA’s appellate process, designed by the very same people promoting Prop. 34, is 100% effective in weeding out the innocent. Every person Prop. 34 proponents refer to are either non-death-penalty cases or out-of-state cases where defendants do not get the benefit of CA’s appellate process.

    Don’t get fooled by the bombardment of lies. See cadeathpenalty.webs. com and voteno34. org for more facts explaining why you should NOT SUPPORT Prop. 34.

  3. A jury of 12 people and a judge confirmed for each of these inmates that their crimes were so atrocious and they were so dangerous that they not only did not deserve to live, but they were so dangerous that the only safe recourse was the death penalty. Recognizing how dangerous these killers are, the prison houses them one person to a cell and does not provide them with work, leaving them locked in their cells most of the day.

    Prop. 34 wants to ignore all of this and save money by placing these killers in less-restrictive prisons where they share cells with other inmates. They also want to provide them opportunities for work, where they have more freedom, access to other inmates and guards, and more chances to manufacture weapons.

    Prop. 34 will also destroy any incentive for the 34,000 inmates already serving life without parole to kill again. There would be no death penalty under Prop. 34 and they are already serving a life sentence, so why not get a name for yourself killing another inmate or a guard?

    And they refer to Prop. 34 as the SAFE Act!

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