New Bill Would Abolish California's Death Penalty

According to a recent study, if California were to rid itself of the death penalty and everyone on death row received the next highest penalty on the books (life without parole) it would save tax payers $184 million per year.

Execution witness viewing room (c) Scott Langley

No state, certainly not California, can afford to waste public money like this. This is a state that has cut valuable social services and funds for education in the face of serious budget shortfalls.

The death penalty is a public policy failure that does not represent the best of our values as a society that says it is committed to human rights. It is a distraction from real solutions that could prevent violent crime and bring valuable services to murder victims’ families.

What could the state do with $184 million per year to improve the lives of Californians?

“[M]ore police officers on the street, more job training, more education, more of the things that would truly make for safer communities.”  These are the things cited by state Senator Loni Hancock as she filed a bill to abolish California’s death penalty.

Raise your voice now and let lawmakers know that you’re ready to end the death penalty distraction and talk about real ways to respect the human rights of murder victims, prisoners and every Californian who has the right to be safe.

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28 thoughts on “New Bill Would Abolish California's Death Penalty

  1. I am a life-long abolitionist and would be thrilled if the State of California took the lead as the progressive State it claims to be.

  2. I've heard that it's the appeals process that makes the death penalty so stinkin' expensive. Don't prisoners get up to seven appeals?

  3. I am a life-long abolitionist and would be thrilled if the State of California took the lead as the progressive State it claims to be.

  4. I’ve heard that it’s the appeals process that makes the death penalty so stinkin’ expensive. Don’t prisoners get up to seven appeals?

  5. The number of appeals in capital cases varies, but there can be several. But the high costs of the death penalty are also due to the nature of the trial itself, which includes both a guilt/innocence phase and a sentencing phase, and more expensive housing costs on death row as opposed to the general prison population.

  6. Regardless of the appeals, there are huge discrepancies in cost between a trial where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty rather than one where they are only seeking life. As Brian mentioned, death cases require 2 separate trials – one to convict, and one to determine whether or not the death penalty may be sentenced. Additionally, the voir dire process is much more tedious and time consuming because prospective jurors have to be vetted to remove those who would unconditionally vote for or against the death penalty if given the opportunity. Many states also have experience requirements for the trial lawyers involved in capital cases, which can not only increase the legal costs, but also the time spent locating and obtaining competent counsel. In the case of the death penalty, time is money. Unfortunately, it is money that could be saved and put to better use, as California is now realizing.

  7. The number of appeals in capital cases varies, but there can be several. But the high costs of the death penalty are also due to the nature of the trial itself, which includes both a guilt/innocence phase and a sentencing phase, and more expensive housing costs on death row as opposed to the general prison population.

  8. Regardless of the appeals, there are huge discrepancies in cost between a trial where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty rather than one where they are only seeking life. As Brian mentioned, death cases require 2 separate trials – one to convict, and one to determine whether or not the death penalty may be sentenced. Additionally, the voir dire process is much more tedious and time consuming because prospective jurors have to be vetted to remove those who would unconditionally vote for or against the death penalty if given the opportunity. Many states also have experience requirements for the trial lawyers involved in capital cases, which can not only increase the legal costs, but also the time spent locating and obtaining competent counsel. In the case of the death penalty, time is money. Unfortunately, it is money that could be saved and put to better use, as California is now realizing.

  9. California cold help lead the US to a more morally and financially responsible response toward those who have committed capital crimes. It is time for California and the nation to rid itself of this costly, brutal practice.

  10. California cold help lead the US to a more morally and financially responsible response toward those who have committed capital crimes. It is time for California and the nation to rid itself of this costly, brutal practice.

  11. Indeed this legislation is long overdue. Ironically, the
    spectacle of the state attempting to kill a prisoner distracts
    our attention from the victims of murder and their families, who
    could be assisted with some of the funds now wasted on an
    extravagantly expensive decades-long drama of death. Life
    without parole or permanent imprisonment, coupled with a
    requirement for labor and restitution to victims' families and
    society, means swift, certain, and more uniform justice. The 96
    world nations which have abolished the death penalty for all
    offenses, and the recent decisions for abolition in New Jersey
    (2007), New Mexico (2009), and Illinois (2011), as well New
    York's decision not to repair an unconstitutional statute, show
    California the way.

  12. Indeed this legislation is long overdue. Ironically, the
    spectacle of the state attempting to kill a prisoner distracts
    our attention from the victims of murder and their families, who
    could be assisted with some of the funds now wasted on an
    extravagantly expensive decades-long drama of death. Life
    without parole or permanent imprisonment, coupled with a
    requirement for labor and restitution to victims’ families and
    society, means swift, certain, and more uniform justice. The 96
    world nations which have abolished the death penalty for all
    offenses, and the recent decisions for abolition in New Jersey
    (2007), New Mexico (2009), and Illinois (2011), as well New
    York’s decision not to repair an unconstitutional statute, show
    California the way.

  13. I am a firm believer in the ending of the death penalty, for all the reasons listed above, and because of the fiscal impact. While i believe in the appeals process as a method for assuring the perponderance of justice, i also believe that those who remove a member of society through their actions should be required to fulfil some role in society for that members absence. In my opinion, they convicted should be given a job, in a prison or prison like setting, that provides a service for the rest of society. Farming, animal husbandry, technological work, etc, in a human setting provides for the rest of society and encourages ethical treatment of those who cannot be included in society

  14. I am a firm believer in the ending of the death penalty, for all the reasons listed above, and because of the fiscal impact. While i believe in the appeals process as a method for assuring the perponderance of justice, i also believe that those who remove a member of society through their actions should be required to fulfil some role in society for that members absence. In my opinion, they convicted should be given a job, in a prison or prison like setting, that provides a service for the rest of society. Farming, animal husbandry, technological work, etc, in a human setting provides for the rest of society and encourages ethical treatment of those who cannot be included in society

  15. I am FOR the Death Penalty!!! However, changes do need to made. The appeals process is way too long!! Eight appeals!!! Eight!!!! Did these criminal/murderers give their victims EIGHT appeals before murdering them? NO!! My dad, Chief J. Leonard Speer, was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 10, 1998!!! The murderer was PROVEN guilty Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt!!! Excellent witnesses, plenty of evidence!! Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt. I received my handbook on Capital Punishment and could not believe the length of it!! Eight appeals with a maze of turns and twists all throughout!! No wonder the cost is so high!!!

    How about a study that tells how much the cost is for taking care of life imprisonment. Food, lodging, medical bills, etc… Use the same criteria that was used for the cost of the Death Penalty. Do Califonians really have to pay for somebody like Charles Manson to live out his life? Are we safer with him not being put to death!! Who gave him the cell phone!! He doesn't need to be let out to be a danger, his voice, his ideas…. they are just as deadly!!!

    Those that do not believe in the Death Penalty, fine.. I respect your opinions but don't take my rights and my opinions away from me!!! My dad deserves justice!! For this to be put to rest!! Revise the appeals process, utilize the Penalty correctly and efficiantly!! Will it make a difference? YES!!! Don't abolish it… don't kill the Death Penalty…!!!! Thank you!!!

  16. I am FOR the Death Penalty!!! However, changes do need to made. The appeals process is way too long!! Eight appeals!!! Eight!!!! Did these criminal/murderers give their victims EIGHT appeals before murdering them? NO!! My dad, Chief J. Leonard Speer, was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 10, 1998!!! The murderer was PROVEN guilty Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt!!! Excellent witnesses, plenty of evidence!! Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt. I received my handbook on Capital Punishment and could not believe the length of it!! Eight appeals with a maze of turns and twists all throughout!! No wonder the cost is so high!!!

    How about a study that tells how much the cost is for taking care of life imprisonment. Food, lodging, medical bills, etc… Use the same criteria that was used for the cost of the Death Penalty. Do Califonians really have to pay for somebody like Charles Manson to live out his life? Are we safer with him not being put to death!! Who gave him the cell phone!! He doesn’t need to be let out to be a danger, his voice, his ideas…. they are just as deadly!!!

    Those that do not believe in the Death Penalty, fine.. I respect your opinions but don’t take my rights and my opinions away from me!!! My dad deserves justice!! For this to be put to rest!! Revise the appeals process, utilize the Penalty correctly and efficiantly!! Will it make a difference? YES!!! Don’t abolish it… don’t kill the Death Penalty…!!!! Thank you!!!

  17. I guess california didn't learn when Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard where kidnapped, raped, tortured all to have their captors enjoy a lifetime of free food, health care, conjugal visits, housing, entertainment, possibility to escape and do it all again etc..not to mention those captors get to see their victims talk about how hurtful they were…I mean come on people, these people harmed our children, friends, family and you just want to let them live. I hope they come back and harm those that don't want the death penalty. I hope it happens to ya'll and then we will see how your love for giving these criminals a lovely life without harsh realities really feel for true victims. Maybe then once ya'll kids are harmed you will understand the death penalty needs to be clear and simple. You harm innocent people thru rape, murder, torture…equates to death peroid…no need for 10, or even 8 appeals just 3, strikes you're out and we need to stop feeding these guys real food..how about bread and water…little medical as possible..for instance you have Asthma too bad no inhaler for you..

  18. I guess california didn’t learn when Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard where kidnapped, raped, tortured all to have their captors enjoy a lifetime of free food, health care, conjugal visits, housing, entertainment, possibility to escape and do it all again etc..not to mention those captors get to see their victims talk about how hurtful they were…I mean come on people, these people harmed our children, friends, family and you just want to let them live. I hope they come back and harm those that don’t want the death penalty. I hope it happens to ya’ll and then we will see how your love for giving these criminals a lovely life without harsh realities really feel for true victims. Maybe then once ya’ll kids are harmed you will understand the death penalty needs to be clear and simple. You harm innocent people thru rape, murder, torture…equates to death peroid…no need for 10, or even 8 appeals just 3, strikes you’re out and we need to stop feeding these guys real food..how about bread and water…little medical as possible..for instance you have Asthma too bad no inhaler for you..

  19. This post contains links.
    Ms. Pendleton, I am so sorry for your loss of your father, who was working for the benefit of his entire community at the time of his death. I understand your wanting justice for your dad.
    You point out some of the many problems and frustrations with the death penalty system in California – one of the most difficult is that it does not provide closure or satisfaction to those who need it most – the family members of the victims.
    Your suggestion that there should be a study of the cost of life in prison is very important. I can tell you that this has been done. The research and 2008 report of the bi-partisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, headed by John Van de Kamp, a former Attorney General of California and District Attorney of Los Angeles County, found that the death penalty in California costs $127 million per year over and above the cost of life without the possibility of parole .http://ccfaj.org/documents/CCFAJFinalReport.pdf
    The recent report by senior US judge Alarcon found that the death penalty is even more expensive, and that the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more that the most expensive life without parole trial .http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_18312151
    There are so many people in your heart-breaking position who have lived with the reality of the murder of their family members for many years. You might find some helpful information at http://www.californiacrimevictims.org/.

  20. This post contains links.
    Ms. Pendleton, I am so sorry for your loss of your father, who was working for the benefit of his entire community at the time of his death. I understand your wanting justice for your dad.
    You point out some of the many problems and frustrations with the death penalty system in California – one of the most difficult is that it does not provide closure or satisfaction to those who need it most – the family members of the victims.
    Your suggestion that there should be a study of the cost of life in prison is very important. I can tell you that this has been done. The research and 2008 report of the bi-partisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, headed by John Van de Kamp, a former Attorney General of California and District Attorney of Los Angeles County, found that the death penalty in California costs $127 million per year over and above the cost of life without the possibility of parole .http://ccfaj.org/documents/CCFAJFinalReport.pdf
    The recent report by senior US judge Alarcon found that the death penalty is even more expensive, and that the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more that the most expensive life without parole trial .http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_18312151
    There are so many people in your heart-breaking position who have lived with the reality of the murder of their family members for many years. You might find some helpful information at http://www.californiacrimevictims.org/.

  21. This post contains links.
    Ms. Pendleton, I am so sorry for your loss of your father, who was working for the benefit of his entire community at the time of his death. I understand your wanting justice for your dad.
    You point out some of the many problems and frustrations with the death penalty system in California – one of the most difficult is that it does not provide closure or satisfaction to those who need it most – the family members of the victims.
    Your suggestion that there should be a study of the cost of life in prison is very important. I can tell you that this has been done. The research and 2008 report of the bi-partisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, headed by John Van de Kamp, a former Attorney General of California and District Attorney of Los Angeles County, found that the death penalty in California costs $127 million per year over and above the cost of life without the possibility of parole .http://ccfaj.org/documents/CCFAJFinalReport.pdf
    The recent report by senior US judge Alarcon found that the death penalty is even more expensive, and that the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more that the most expensive life without parole trial .http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_18312151
    There are so many people in your heart-breaking position who have lived with the reality of the murder of their family members for many years. You might find some helpful information at http://www.californiacrimevictims.org/.

  22. This post contains links.
    Ms. Pendleton, I am so sorry for your loss of your father, who was working for the benefit of his entire community at the time of his death. I understand your wanting justice for your dad.
    You point out some of the many problems and frustrations with the death penalty system in California – one of the most difficult is that it does not provide closure or satisfaction to those who need it most – the family members of the victims.
    Your suggestion that there should be a study of the cost of life in prison is very important. I can tell you that this has been done. The research and 2008 report of the bi-partisan California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, headed by John Van de Kamp, a former Attorney General of California and District Attorney of Los Angeles County, found that the death penalty in California costs $127 million per year over and above the cost of life without the possibility of parole.http://ccfaj.org/documents/CCFAJFinalReport.pdf
    The recent report by senior US judge Alarcon found that the death penalty is even more expensive, and that the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more that the most expensive life without parole trial.http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_18312151
    There are so many people in your heart-breaking position who have lived with the reality of the murder of their family members for many years. You might find some helpful information at http://www.californiacrimevictims.org/.

  23. if the most populated state in the nation (over 20% of americans live in CA) is willing to legalize marijuana, maybe the legislature is finally coming to its senses.

    thank god

  24. if the most populated state in the nation (over 20% of americans live in CA) is willing to legalize marijuana, maybe the legislature is finally coming to its senses.

    thank god