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By Thea Skinner

October 10, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Proposition 34 would eliminate the death penalty in California and replace it with a sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole. Importantly, it applies retroactively to anyone who has already been convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The measure would also make it a requirement for anyone found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with some wages given to funds for victims and their families. Prop 34 would also earmark $100 million in grants, paid for from savings by the proposal, to law enforcement for investigation of rape and homicide.

Supporters of Prop 34  say it ensures that California never executes an innocent person and saves taxpayers $130 million every year spent on death penalty appeals and other costs.

Supporters of Prop 34 include the League of Women Voters and the California State NAACP, California Church IMPACT, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, ACLU of Amnesty International, and the California Democratic Party.

John Van de Kamp, former attorney general of California and former Los Angeles County district attorney said, “SAFE (Savings Accountability Full Enforcement) California will provide public protection by keeping those truly guilty of death penalty crimes locked up for life, and in the meantime saving us millions of dollars that will be invested in crime-fighting measures leading to the apprehension of serious criminals.”

Opponents of Prop 34 argue it will cost Californians millions of dollars to give lifetime healthcare and housing to murderers, even those who raped and tortured children as well as killers of police officers. 

Opponents of Proposition 34 include the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Agencies, Crime Victims United, the California State Sheriff Association, the California Association of Highway Patrol, district attorneys throughout California, and the Republican Party.

Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney said, “As we know, the citizens of California have voted for and approved the death penalty. I think the SAFE California Act is a slap in the face to the victims and their family members. Not only is the title of this initiative misleading but its proponents are simply using California’s tough economic times to further their cause.”

For more information visit: Yes on Proposition 34: No on Proposition 34: Also visit: Voting occurs Nov. 6.

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Prop. 34 and its dangers

Those on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, including 230 children & 43 police officers.  211 were raped, 319 robbed, 66 killed by execution, & 47 tortured.  11 murdered other inmates.

A jury of 12 people and a judge confirmed for each of these inmates that their crimes were so atrocious and they were so dangerous that they not only did not deserve to live, but they were so dangerous that the only safe recourse was the death penalty.  Recognizing how dangerous these killers are, the prison houses them one person to a cell and does not provide them with work, leaving them locked in their cells most of the day.

Prop. 34 wants to ignore all of this and save money by placing these killers in less-restrictive prisons where they share cells with other inmates.  They also want to provide them opportunities for work, where they have more freedom, access to other inmates and guards, and more chances to manufacture weapons.

Prop. 34 will also destroy any incentive for the 34,000 inmates already serving life without parole to kill again.  There would be no death penalty under Prop. 34 and they are already serving a life sentence, so why not get a name for yourself killing another inmate or a guard?

And they refer to Prop. 34 as the SAFE Act! 

Save Money with Prop 34

The costs of the death penalty are well established by reliable sources. Federal Judge (and former death penalty prosecutor) Arthur Alarcon authored a law review article, along with Loyola Law School Professor Paula Mitchell, that found that we have spent $4B on the death penalty since 1978, and are on track to spend $1B over the next 5 years. A recent update to this report shows that the state will spend between $5 and $7B on the death penalty between 2013 and 2050.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office did their own study, and found that replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole will save the state $130M per year.

SAFE California has over 10,000 donors and supporters behind this effort, with donations from $5 to $5,000 and more. Supporters include clergy, law enforcement, labor leaders, elected officials, victim family members, conservatives and liberals.

The SAFE California Fund will provide $100M over 3 years to help solve crime in our communities. The money will be directed to local law enforcement to bring down the shocking unsolved crime rates in this state. Right now, 46% of murders and 56% of reported rapes go unsolved every year.

Voters would rather spend precious state resources on keeping our communities safe than on death row inmates who are already safely locked up behind bars forever. Life in prison without parole is a harsh punishment, and it will keep heinous killers behind bars until they die, with no hope of ever getting out.

Proposition 34 is justice that works – for everyone. You can find out more at

Prop. 34 and the death penalty

The judge coming up with the $130 million figure is a long-time advocate against the death penalty and in no way "unbiased" as claimed by proponents of prop. 34.

Former California Department of Finance Director Michael Genest, an expert on state finances and how ballot initiatives affect the state budget, reviewed Prop 34 and said that its claims of budget savings are "grossly exaggerated."

There is no independent, third-party study that exists which backs up any claim that eliminating the death penalty in California will save money.  The "study" put forth by the Yes on Prop 34 campaign was conducted by individuals whose opposition to the death penalty is well-known.  In other words, they are trying to push their own agenda.

The non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has studied Prop 34 and while they estimate possible savings under Prop 34, they acknowledge substantial uncertainties in their estimates and admit they could be off by "tens of millions of dollars."

Unless murders stop, there will always be murder investigations and trials costs, whether or not there is a death penalty, and killers will continue to appeal their convictions.  Prop 34 proponents never account for these costs, or the increased cost to provide housing and healthcare for death row inmates in any of their claims.

Death Penalty: Prop. 34- Voters Strongly Oppose

The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children.  43 were police officers.  211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured.  11 murdered other inmates.

The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false.

No “savings.”  Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one.  Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work.  These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers.  Also, without the death penalty, the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty will lead to more trial and related costs and appeals.
No “accountability.”  Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims.  Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one.

No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors.  Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate.  They’re already serving a life sentence.

Efforts are also being made to get rid of life sentences.  (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.)  This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences.  On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving 25 years.  Life without parole is meaningless.  Remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan.  Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps.

Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA.  Can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See