Contact: Chelsea Bond

San Francisco – February 13, 2014 –  Leaders at Death Penalty Focus are pushing back on today’s announcement by a group of death penalty supporters of a new proposal to change death penalty procedures in California.

“It’s shocking how the proposal of so-called ‘common sense improvements’ really makes no sense and will only make matters worse. The vision of faster, cheaper justice that is also safe is just a deadly mirage,” said Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, the leading proponents of abolishing the death penalty in California.  “Instead of increasing the risk of executing innocent people and adding even more costs, we need to replace the dysfunctional death penalty system with life in prison.”

California’s death penalty system has already cost the state more than $4 billion since 1978. But many provisions in the ballot initiative will increase the cost of the death penalty system by inserting more levels of bureaucracy into the process.

According to Cherry, many other states have seen the best way to deal with capital punishment is to replace it with life without parole. On Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington announced that he would suspend executions during his term due to concerns about cost and fairness. Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and Oregon Governor Kitzhaber have announced similar executive actions in recent years. Six other states in the past six years have replaced the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

“Let’s face it: the current death penalty system is flawed and this initiative will only make things worse, not better. Those who want to change the death penalty system agree with us that the current laws aren’t working, but they fail to realize that there is no way to fix California’s death penalty. The only workable solution is to replace the death penalty before we speed an innocent person to their death at the hands of the state,” said Cherry.


Founded in 1988, Death Penalty Focus is one of the largest nonprofit advocacy organizations in the nation dedicated to the abolition of capital punishment through public education; grassroots and political organizing; original research; media outreach; local, state and nationwide coalition building; and the education of religious, legislative and civic leaders about the death penalty and its alternatives.  For more information, visit

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