Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Requires persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them. Creates $100 million fund to be distributed to law enforcement agencies to help solve more homicide and rape cases. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government:
Net savings to the state and counties that could amount to the high tens of millions of dollars annually on a statewide basis due to the elimination of the death penalty. One-time state costs totaling $100 million from 2012-13 through 2015-16 to provide funding to local law enforcement agencies. (11-0035)
This is probably one of the simplest measures to explain, but requires a gut check on the part of the voter.
Keep the death penalty on the books… or repeal it?
Backers of Prop 34, while no doubt making the morality argument in some corners, have focused their campaign on money… as in, the high cost of capital punishment. They argue that a state with strained finances can no longer afford the lengthy appeals guaranteed by the death penalty, and that life imprisonment is actually cheaper.
Prop 34 opponents are running a pretty traditional crime-and-punishment campaign, saying there are ways to speed up the appeals and thus save money.
The reality is that California has executed very few people since the death penalty was instituted – by voters – in 1972. The reasons for that, though, are not as generally agreed upon, which means Prop 34 is your chance to weigh in.