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Group mounts campaign to speed up death penalty in CA

An illustration of a gavel and a weight balance.
An illustration of a gavel and a weight balance.

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In the latest chapter of California’s death penalty saga, a group of law enforcement officials and victims’ rights advocates have announced an initiative to get a death penalty reform proposal on the 2016 ballot.

Unlike past initiatives that have sought to completely abolish the ultimate punishment, The Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 seeks to create a larger pool of lawyers for inmates sentenced to death, cut down the amount of time those inmates wait to be appointed a lawyer, and gives the California Supreme Court oversight of the state agency which manages death penalty appeals.

Opponents say that the initiative simply throws more money at a problem that clearly can’t be solved that way, and that true death penalty reform in California would mean amending the state constitution.

Since 1978, over 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed. The last time the state of California executed a prisoner was in 2006.

What will death penalty reform look like on the 2016 ballot? Should a push still exist to completely abolish the practice or is the right move to look at ways to reform since repeal is difficult?


Mike Hestrin, District Attorney, Riverside County

Paula Mitchell, executive director of the Alarcon Advocacy Center and legal director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent