Capitol Alert

California will vote on death penalty repeal in November

California death penalty: justice or debacle?

Legislative hearings on 2016 two capital punishment ballot measures featured former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell against past NFL player and crime victim Kermit Alexander. Warning: Explicit language in the testimony. Video courtesy of the California
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Legislative hearings on 2016 two capital punishment ballot measures featured former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell against past NFL player and crime victim Kermit Alexander. Warning: Explicit language in the testimony. Video courtesy of the California

California voters will get to decide in November whether to repeal the state’s death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Friday certified that the measure, pushed by former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell, had submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. Another measure that aims to expedite executions has yet to qualify for the ballot, but could before the end of the month.

Farrell’s measure also requires convicted murderers to work in prison and increases to 60 percent the amount of wages from that work that would flow into a victims’ restitution fund.

California has not executed a death row inmate since 2006, with ongoing legal challenges to the state’s lethal injection protocol essentially halting the practice. Supporters of abolishing the death penalty say executions are inhumane, costly and bound to kill wrongly convicted people.

The death penalty had strong public support in California for decades, but support for repealing the law has grown in recent years. In 2012, voters turned down Proposition 34’s repeal, 52 percent to 48 percent. In January, a Field Poll showed 48 percent of voters want to speed up the process, while 47 percent said the law should be repealed.

About 750 condemned inmates are living out their lives on death row at San Quentin State Prison, California's oldest state prison which opened in 1852.

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