California death penalty repeal, Proposition 34, rejected
Proposition 34, a bid to repeal California’s death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment, has failed.
The drive to abolish the death penalty was launched by former San Quentin State Prison warden Jeanne Woodford, who led a coalition that included Don Heller, one of the original architects of the 1978 death penalty initiative. Among those who also crusaded for the measure were the mothers of two murder victims and a warden who oversaw four executions.
Supporters argued that executions do nothing to prevent further crime and create the possibility of killing an innocent person. They also said it was an issue of cost, pointing to the millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on attorney fees and other expenses as the condemned go through the appeal process.
Opponents argued that the death penalty helps deter crime and gives families of murdered victims a sense of justice. They said that repealing it would “embolden the most vicious criminals.”
Opposition to the initiative was largely organized by the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, with support from other law enforcement groups.
The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated the measure would save California $130 million a year in reduced prison security costs and litigation expenses. The initiative included a provision to direct $100 million of the savings to local law enforcement.
-- Paige St. John in Sacramento
Photo: A view of the lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times