Voters in California have repeatedly said that they want the death penalty available as appropriate punishment for the very worst of the worst murderers. But anti-death penalty activists have broken the system through endless appeals and delaying tactics. The death penalty is used rarely. Only about 15-20 new capital punishment verdicts are handed down in California each year, for only the most heinous crimes. Child killers. Serial murderers. Cop killers. Murderers who tortured or raped their victims before killing them. Victims’ families, prosecutors, and law enforcement support reform of California’s death penalty. There is no reason why it should take 25 to 30 years or more to convict the worst killers, ensure all appeals are exhausted, and carry out the sentence.
Fixing it will save California taxpayers millions of dollars every year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families.
Death row inmates have murdered over 1,000 victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured. It’s time California reformed our death penalty process so it works. Proposition 66 will ensure justice for both victims and defendants by:
Reforming the Appeals Process
- Limit all state appeals to 5 years.
- Require that a defendant who is sentenced to death be appointed a lawyer at the time of sentence, rather than waiting for years just to get a lawyer.
- Expand the pool of available defense attorneys so the excuse of no lawyer can’t be used to delay appeals
- A defendant’s claim of actual innocence should not be limited, but frivolous, repetitive and unnecessary claims should be restricted.
Reforming Death Row Housing and Victim Restitution
- According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, eliminating single cell housing of death row inmates will save tens of millions of dollars every year.
- Death row inmates should be required to work in prison and to pay restitution to their victims’ families consistent with the Victims’ Bill of Rights (Marsy’s law). Refusal to work and pay restitution should result in loss of special privileges.
Reforming the Appointment of Appellate Counsel and Agency Oversight
- Reforming the existing inefficient appeals process for death penalty cases will ensure fairness for both defendants and victims. Capital defendants wait five years or more for appointments of their appellate lawyer. By providing prompt appointment of attorneys, the defendant’s claims will be heard sooner.
- The state agency that is supposed to expedite secondary review of death penalty cases is operating without any effective oversight, causing long delays and wasting taxpayer dollars. California Supreme Court oversight of this state agency will ensure accountability.