PUBLIC OPINION: Californians Strongly Support Commuting All Death Sentences to Save Money
A recent poll conducted by David Binder Research found strong support for commuting all of the sentences of California's 712 death row inmates to life in prison without parole and requring them to pay restitution to the victims' families. Of the 800 voters surveyed, 63% supported the commutations, which would save the state $1 billion over five years. California currently faces a $13 billion budget gap. Voters from across the political spectrum favored the idea of commuting all the state's death sentences and putting the money saved towards public education and law enforcement. Support was highest among independents (70%), followed by Democrats at 64% and Republicans at 58%. The proposal was also popular throughout the state, with Bay Area voters expressing the most support (70%).
QUESTION: California needs to close $13 billion from the state budget. One idea being discussed is for
Governor Brown to convert the sentences of all 712 people on death row to a sentence of life
imprisonment without any possibility of parole, and require these inmates to work and pay
restitution to victim families. This would save the state $1 billion in five years, without releasing a
single prisoner, and the money saved would be required to be used only for public education and
law enforcement. Do you support or oppose this idea?
STRONGLY SUPPORT 40
SOMEWHAT SUPPORT 23 -- TOTAL SUPPORT →63%
SOMEWHAT OPPOSE 9
STRONGLY OPPOSE 19 -- TOTAL OPPOSE →28%
UNSURE / DON’T KNOW 9
California Governor Jerry Brown announced last week that he was cancelling plans to build a new death row. The decision will save the state $356 million. In a press release, Brown said, “At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the State of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals in our state. California will have to find another way to address the housing needs of condemned inmates. It would be unconscionable to earmark $356 million for a new and improved death row while making severe cuts to education and programs that serve the most vulnerable among us.”
("Voters From Across Political Spectrum Support Converting All Current Death Row Sentences to Save California $1 Billion Over Five Years," David Binder Research, April 26, 2011; Office of Governor Jerry Brown, "Governor Brown Cancels Plan to Build New $356 Million Condemned Inmate Housing Facility at San Quentin," April 28, 2011.) See Costs, Public Opinion, and California.