As Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, I have spent the last two years evaluating California’s prison system and sentencing laws. One thing has become very clear to me – California’s death penalty punishes all of us.
It is tough on the taxpayers, not tough on crime. There is an alternative on your November ballot: I strongly urge you to support Proposition 34, the initiative to replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole.
Many people think the death penalty is less expensive than life imprisonment, but that just isn’t true. With special legal teams that work only on death penalty cases and the most expensive housing in the entire prison system, it costs Californians at least an additional $130,000,000 every year to have a death penalty.
If we stop wasting tax dollars on the death penalty, our cash-strapped cities can use those resources to keep teachers in the classroom and police on the streets – the real way to keep our communities safe.
After serving in public office for several decades, I know how important community safety is. It shocks me that 46 percent of the murders in California go unsolved every year because law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to properly investigate cases.
Thousands of victims have no justice at all, knowing that the person who killed their loved one still walks the streets, possibly harming others. That’s why Proposition 34 directs a portion of the funds saved from replacing the death penalty to local law enforcement for DNA testing and other tools to solve more crimes and protect the innocent.
Finally, Proposition 34 will ensure that we never execute an innocent person. Last year, the state of Illinois replaced the death penalty with life in prison without parole after discovering it had wrongfully sentenced to death a dozen people in the last decade. Over 141 people sentenced to death, nationwide, have been cleared decades later using DNA analysis.