Why did California Choose to Reaffirm Capital Punishment?
Last Tuesday (Nov. 9, 2016), the people of California voted for keeping capital punishment for first degree murder. Proposition 62 gave Californians the option to abolish death penalty and replace it with life in prison while denying the convict any prospect of parole. It was rejected. Exact results were 53.9% – 46.1% in favor of maintaining capital punishment.
In addition, in Proposition 66, voters also decided to speed up the appeal process, thus shortening the time convicts spend in death row. The logic behind Proposition 66 is twofold: to mitigate the suffering of those waiting to be executed while saving the sate millions of dollars involved in myriads of appeals and court hours from the moment the defendant is sentenced to die until he / she is actually put to death.
Are people executed in California?
In reality there are hardly any executions in California as statistics show. During the last 4 decades, only 13 people were executed. The last execution took place in 2006. Clarence Ray Allen was put to death with 3 counts of first degree murder. He was sentenced in 1982 and consequently spent 24 years in death row in San Quentin State Prison. Currently, there are close to 750 inmates in California waiting to be executed.
So why are Californians in favor of the death penalty?
There are three main reasons the majority of the people in California are in favor of the death penalty. First and foremost, they support retribution in a Biblical manner: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. In other words, they are convinced that it is morally justified to take the life of a person who took the life of others.
Second, capital punishment, it is believed, will deter potential murders. According to the FBI, murder rate in California in 2015 was 4.4 per 100,000 with 1,700 cases. If the death penalty were abolished, many think, the rate would be much higher.
In fact, this may not be necessarily true. In Illinois murder rate is 5.4 per 100,000; in Alaska it is 5.6 per 100,000. In those two states, capital punishment is illegal.
Lastly, Many Californians point to the high cost of locking a murderer for his entire life. This is also not true. An inmate in death row costs the state more than $1.2 million while a life sentence inmate costs the state around $750,000.