There is a strong movement under way in California to have the voters of California decide very soon whether our state should abolish the death penalty. In place of the death penalty would be life sentences without the possibility for parole. Many legal scholars have written well researched articles on this topic and have come to the conclusion that the death penalty is a financial burden that our state cannot continue to bear. Further, the evidence is clear that it is almost impossible for the state to find competent appellate lawyers for those on death row.
The proposed ballot measure states that those convicted of crimes that currently subject them to the death penalty would be required to work and pay restitution to victims families of their crimes. The proposal would also set aside 100 million dollars to be used by law enforcement to help solve unsolved murder and rape crimes that cannot currently continue for lack of funding.
The bottom line is that since 1978 only 13 people have been put to death under our current death penalty law. The cost of housing and providing lawyers for the thousands of men and women on death row has exceeded four billion dollars and the cost continues to grow. It is very difficult to find lawyers to take on death penalty appeals. Persons on death row are allowed to continue to appeal their sentences. In some cases the appeals have gone on for over twenty years. Many cases sit and go nowhere while a search goes on to find a lawyer willing to take on the case.
The time has come to realize that any deterrent effect the death penalty may have had over thirty years no longer exists today. When a person who is considering committing a serious crime in 2012 they do not take into consideration that they could be put to death for the crime. This is because there is an extremely small chance under the current law a death sentence will ever be carried out.
When this proposal reaches the ballot we urge everyone to seriously consider voting to support this change which will save taxpayers billions of dollars and allow our courts other cases to go forth at a much more rapid pace.