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.”