Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California support for death penalty hits fifty-year low

Support for the death penalty in California is the lowest it has been in almost 50 years, though a majority of voters still favor it.

A new Field Poll found 56 percent of California voters support keeping the death penalty as a punishment for serious crimes, compared to 34 percent who oppose it. That’s down from 68 percent in 2011 and consistent support above 80 percent in the 1980s and early ‘90s. The last time support was lower was 1965, when a poll found 51 percent of Californians favored the death penalty.

The future of capital punishment in California is up in the air following a July ruling by a federal judge that the state’s administration of the death penalty is so dysfunctional it is unconstitutional.

When asked by Field how the state should respond to the decision, 52 percent of poll respondents said California should work to speed up the execution process, while 40 percent said the state should do away with the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sam Stanton has more on the political implications of falling support for the death penalty. Here are the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert, as well as the publicly released results of the poll.

VIDEO: California’s water bond measure is the most important issue on the November ballot, Dan Walters says. What kind of opposition will it face?

MAMBO NO. 5: It’s been 227 days and four delays in sentencing since state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, was found guilty of eight felonies related to living outside of the district he represents. He faces the possibility of six months in jail, though Wright has asked for a new trial, arguing that he met the legal requirements to run for office in his district. Is this the day we finally find out Wright’s fate? He’s back in court this morning, so stay tuned.

GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY: As 1,000 members of the new California AmeriCorps class prepare to be sworn in, Gov. Jerry Brown will deliver remarks in honor of the national community service program’s 20th anniversary, 10 a.m. at the Presidio Institute in San Francisco.

HEADLINE HUSTLER: With hundreds of bills on the governor’s desk awaiting action, lawmakers are turning to the public to make the case for their proposals before the Sept. 30 signature deadline. State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and local activists will promote SB 968, an effort to reopen access to Martins Beach in Half Moon Bay, at 10:30 a.m. outside the private road to the beach closed in 2010 by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. Assemblymen Jeff Gorrell, R-Camarillo, and Matt Dababneh, D-Encino, will join Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to push for AB 1327, imposing restrictions on how law enforcement and public agencies may use drones, 3:30 p.m. at Fire Station 88 in Los Angeles.

I LOVE COLLEGE: The three leaders of California’s public higher education segments – University of California President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris – gather for a discussion on “preparing 21st-century graduates,” 1:45 p.m. at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Education Summit in Mountain View. Assemblywomen Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, and State Board of Education President Mike Kirst are also participating in a 10:45 a.m. policy panel at the annual education conference.

I DON’T NEED NO DOCTOR: A rising number of California parents are opting out of vaccinating their children, a phenomenon that has led to the reemergence of measles across the state and could to lead to future outbreaks of other serious diseases. Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who authored a bill two years ago requiring parents seeking vaccine exemptions to first talk with a medical profesional about the potential impact, recently participated in a NOVA special on vaccines to discuss his legislation. You can view the segment on the PBS website.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, who turns 72 today, and to Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, who will be 41 on Sunday.