California’s Proposition 34, an initiative to end the death penalty and replace it with life without parole was narrowly defeated by a margin of 53% to 47%. The millions of Californians who voted in favor of this measure have made clear that keeping their communities safe and maintaining a working justice system are their top priorities. We expect that California will eventually move beyond the death penalty, following the momentum that is already evident in other states across the country.
The fact that such a large percent of the populace voted to end the death penalty in California is testament to the fact that people are increasingly concerned about the fairness and effectiveness of such a costly, broken system. The vote represents a dramatic shift away from support for the death penalty and is a clear signal that many voters have changed their minds about this issue.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia do not have the death penalty, and California has not had an execution in over six years. Last year, 2011, was the first year since 1976 that the country produced fewer than 100 new death sentences, marking a steady decline in the number of new death sentences and executions.
Support for the death penalty continues to wane as more and more people question the merits and effectiveness of capital punishment. The nationwide trend of ending the use of the death penalty will continue as state elected officials across the country must address the concerns of their constituents about the very real risks and exorbitant costs associated with sentencing people to death.
Photo: Courtesy SAFE California