by Beth Weinberger
This November we’ll have a chance to vote again to repeal California’s death penalty, replacing it with Life Without Possibility of Parole. Unfortunately, a competing measure that would attempt to change the appeals process to expedite executions has caused confusion, especially as the latter measure’s title is misleading. So here’s an explanation of each of the initiatives with recommendations in keeping with Kehilla policy.
The Justice that Works Act of 2016—Proposition #62
This is essentially the same as Prop. 34 on the 2012 ballot, which Kehilla supported. It would replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. It would:
- End state killing and eliminate the possibility of executing innocent people. Since 1973, 156 people, convicted of murder, have been exonerated, 3 of them in California.
- Keep dangerous criminals from ever being released.
- Save approximately $150 million a year that could be put to more productive use.
- Increase to 60% the portion of wages earned by persons sentenced to life without parole that may go to victim restitution funds.
Recommendation: Support Prop. 62
Death Penalty Reform & Savings Act of 2016—Proposition #66
Prop. 66 attempts to “reform” a failed death penalty system by changing the appeals process. It would remove current safeguards, limit the ability to present new evidence of innocence and set unrealistic deadlines for trials and appeals. The changed procedures and new deadlines would force hiring of hundreds of new, inexperienced attorneys at taxpayer expense. If it succeeded, it would:
- Increase the chances of wrongful convictions and execution of innocent people
- Interfere with our due process and appeals processes, which might be found unconstitutional after costly and lengthy lawsuits.
- Authorize the state to house death row inmates in new prisons.
- Model California’s system after Texas’ rapid execution mill.
- Move appeals from the state Supreme Court to local county courts, prioritizing these cases and the shortened timelines. It would overwhelm lower courts and severely limit their ability to hear other types of cases or conduct any other court business.
Recommendation: Oppose Prop. 66
This fall you’ll have a chance to hear more about, question and discuss these initiatives, as well as a number of others at a Kehilla Ballot Initiatives evening, October 17. Mark your calendars and see Richard Speiglman’s article, also in this issue, on some of the other initiatives, researched and recommended by Oakland Community Organizations (OCO.)