Californians will decide this fall whether to abolish the state’s death penalty. County elections officials say capital punishment opponents have submitted enough valid voter signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
California’s current capital punishment system has been in place for nearly 40 years. But the state has executed just 15 of the more than 900 people sentenced to death in the decades since – while 70 have died of natural causes. And executions are currently on hold in California until a federal court signs off on a new lethal injection process.
Supporters and opponents of capital punishment agree the process is broken, but they have very different ideas on what to do about it.
The initiative that’s just qualified for the November ballot would eliminate the death penalty and convert the sentences of the nearly 750 current Death Row inmates to life without the possibility of parole. A rival measure intended to expedite the death penalty process is also expected to qualify in the coming days.
The death penalty abolition initiative is the ninth statewide measure currently eligible for the November election. One is expected to be rescinded, but many more could qualify before the June 30th deadline – and nearly 20 propositions in all could go before voters this fall.