Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp. Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. Don Heller, author of California’s Death Penalty Law. Ron Briggs, former El Dorado County Supervisor who led the campaign for California’s Death Penalty Law in 1978. Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles County District Attorney.
These are just a few of the leaders, lawmakers, district attorneys and judges who are supporting Proposition 62. More than 40 victims’ family members are supporting it, as well as organizations including the NAACP, California Democratic Party, League of Women Voters and the California Catholic Conference. (A complete list of endorsements can be found here.)
Prop 62, the Justice That Works Act of 2016, replaces the death penalty with a strict life without parole sentence in prison. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Prop 62 will save taxpayers $150 million per year. It would also eliminate the unavoidable risk of executing an innocent person. Unlike those on death row, Prop 62 inmates will be required to work and pay restitution to victims’ families. (The sponsor of Prop 62 is Taxpayers for Sentencing Reform, headed by Mike Farrell, who is on leave as president of Death Penalty Focus to oversee the campaign.)
Another death penalty measure on the November ballot, Prop 66, claims it would fast-track California’s death penalty system, but an analysis by Loyola Law School’s Alarcon Advocacy Center reports that it would actually take what is already a complicated capital appeals process and “add two additional layers of review.” The report also states that the measure would drain local court resources, would monopolize the California Supreme Court by forcing it to “dedicate its full attention to capital cases for many years to come, to the exclusion of other pressing matters,” and would make counties liable for additional attorney costs and legal fees.
As Rosalynn and former President Jimmy Carter said in endorsing Prop 62, “We believe that the attempt to administer the death penalty in a fair and efficient manner has failed, and note that a number of states have chosen to abandon this policy for this reason. It is our hope that California will also lead the nation in adopting a more effective and fiscally responsible law enforcement approach.”
The bishops of California endorsed Prop 62, saying “The current use of the death penalty does not promote healing. It only brings more violence to a world that has too much violence already.” The bishops also stated their opposition to Proposition 66. “Any rush to streamline that process will result in the execution of more innocent people,” they said.
The San Jose Mercury News has already endorsed Prop 62 in an editorial, saying, “Since 1978, the state has spent more than $4 billion on just 13 executions: Imagine if, instead, the money had been spent on education, on rehabilitating young offenders or on catching more murderers, rapists and other violent criminals. That’s how to reduce crime and prevent more people from becoming victims.” It also denounced Prop 66, and its plan to "speed up" the process, saying, “Speed is the hallmark of places like China, where the average length of time on death row is estimated at 50 days. It is the opposite of what nations concerned with actual justice would do.”