By Donna Westfall – November 15, 2016 – The Death Penalty propositions.
In Prop 62, it asked the voters to repeal the death penalty. California is one of 30 states in the union that has the death penalty. There are currently more than 750 death row prisoners and over 20 that have exhausted their appeals. The most recent voters results show that the NO votes to repealing the death penalty has 53.79% of the vote from over 5 million voters.
In Prop 66, it asked the voters to reduce the number of years a death row prisoner could appeal down to five years. It also required prisoners to work while in prison and pay restitution to the victim’s families at the rate of 70% of their pay. Currently over 4 1/2 million voters voted YES at 50.91% of the vote.
The state prison cost savings predicted to be in the tens of millions annually although the state court costs due to an acceleration of spending to address new time lines on legal challenges to death sentences could also be in the tens of millions annually.
However, here’s the rub. The proposition that garners the most votes supercedes the other.
That’s right. It looks like Prop 66 will supercede Prop 62 because the ballot measures were not compatible and the one with the most YES votes supercedes the other.
Prop 62 got 4,303,516 YES votes to Prop 66’s 4,544,829 YES votes. Prop 66 wins over Prop 62.
Will there be legal challenges? Probably by the ACLU.
The death penalty is supposed to be a deterrent to crime. But for a deterrent to work, it needs to be swift, not 10 or 20 or more years down the road when even the families of victims pass away before witnessing the prisoners execution.
One prime example is Charles Manson. In 1971 he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people all of which were carried out by members of his group called the Manson Family, at his instruction. One of the victims was 8 1/2 months pregnant, actress Sharon Tate, on August 9, 1969. His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment because California abolished the death penalty in the early 1970’s. He even spent time in Pelican Bay State Prison. He is currently serving nine concurrent life sentences at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, California. That’s 45 years in prison at roughly $47,000 a year equaling over $2 million to be on the conservative side. That doesn’t include all the other costs and expenses like medical for things like treating him when another inmate set him on fire years ago and he sustained third degree burns over 18% of his body. He made a full recovery.
To end on a more positive note, Doris Tate, Sharon’s mother, changed the course of criminal justice by raising the awareness of the public because criminal cult leaders were getting too much attention. It resulted in amendments to the California criminal law in 1982 that allowed crime victims and their families to make victim impact statements during sentencing and at parole hearings. Doris Tate was the first person to make such an impact statement under the new law when she spoke at the parole hearing of Charles “Tex” Watson, one of her daughter’s killers.