Prop 34 : Will California Ban the Death Penalty?
Congress. State ballot measures across the country will ask voters to weigh in on scores of controversial issues, from Dream Act measures in Maryland to abortion restrictions in Florida. From now until Nov. 6, TIME will spotlight a different ballot issue every day. First up, California’s Proposition 34.
Prop 34 would do three things: replace the death penalty in California with life in prison without parole, create a $100 million fund to investigate rape and murder cases, and require inmates to work and pay restitution to victims or their families.
Supporters of Prop 34 have focused on the financial implications, not the moral ones, of executing prisoners. A Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review study estimates that the death penalty has cost taxpayers $4 billion since 1978, the year California reinstated capital punishment. The state has carried out only 13 executions during that period, and the study estimates that getting rid of the death penalty would save the state $130 million every year. “California is broke, and our death-penalty system is broken beyond repair,” says Jeanne Woodford, a proponent of Prop 34 and former warden of San Quentin State Prison, where she oversaw four executions. “Proposition 34 is justice that works for everyone.”