Death Penalty Repeal Initiative Qualifies for Ballot in California

On April 23, the SAFE California Act, an initiative to replace California’s death penalty with a sentence of life without parole, qualified for the November 2012 ballot by presenting an ample number of qualified signatures. The initiative garnered almost 800,000 signatures for the measure that would repeal the death penalty and make capital crimes punishable by life in prison without parole. The initiative would also require inmates to work in prison to help pay restitution to the families of victims, and would send $30 million annually for three years to local law enforcement agencies to help solve murder and rape cases. Ron Briggs, who sponsored the 1978 initiative that expanded the death penalty in California, recently expressed support for repeal of the law. In a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Briggs endorsed the SAFE California campaign, saying “I still believe that society must be protected from the most heinous criminals, and that they don't deserve to ever again be free. But I'd like to see them serve their terms with the general prison population, where they could be required to work and pay restitution into the victims' compensation fund. There are few 'do-overs' in life, especially in politics. With the death penalty, though, 34 years later I have an opportunity to set things right.”

(J. Myers, "Calif. death penalty law facing possible termination," ABC News-10, April 23, 2012; see earlier article, R. Briggs, "California's death penalty law: It simply does not work," Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2012).  See Recent Legislation.  For more information on the SAFE California Act, visit www.safecalifornia.org.