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