"Campaign to abolish California's death penalty begins airing ads," is the Los Angeles Times report written by Maura Dolan. Here's the beginning:
The campaign to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole launched radio and television advertisements Monday, depicting capital punishment as a futile exercise that costs taxpayers and coddles criminals.
With only two weeks left before the election, the Proposition 34 campaign is spending more than $2 million on ads that will air in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Polls suggest the measure has been struggling but gaining ground.
"Do you know we have the death penalty in California?" actor Edward James Olmos asks in a radio spot for Proposition 34. "You might not, because we almost never use it."
The ads emphasize how few inmates are executed — 13 since 1978 — and suggest the money would be better used for schools and crime fighting. California's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has said the state could save as much as $130 million a year if the death penalty is abolished.
"Death row inmates get special legal teams that work for them, but they don't work or pay 1 cent to the victim's families, like other inmates do," Olmos says. "They just sit in private cells, watching TV."
The campaign's television ad focuses on Francisco "Franky" Carrillo, who served 20 years in prison for a murder he said he did not commit. A judge overturned his conviction and released him last year.
"It took 20 years to prove he was innocent," Olmos said, in English and Spanish ads. "With the death penalty, we always risk executing an innocent person."
"California's Prop. 34: Battle over fate of state's death penalty heating up," is by Howard Mintz for the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
With the election drawing near and several polls showing an unexpectedly tight vote, the Proposition 34 campaign over whether to abolish California's death penalty is heating up.
And the two rival campaigns are unveiling ads this week relying on very different messages to appeal to voters being asked for the first time to abandon the death penalty since it was restored more than three decades ago. In short, the pro-Proposition 34 forces are asking voters to save California money and rid the state of the justice system's most costly and controversial law. And law enforcement foes of the measure are reminding the public of the notorious killers who wind up on death row, from Richard Allen Davis to mass murderer Charles Ng.
Proposition 34 backers on Monday launched a series of statewide television and radio ads, bankrolled by a campaign that has pulled in more than $6.5 million from a roster of the rich and famous. Actors Martin Sheen and Edward James Olmos provide the introductions to the television ad, which features a Los Angeles man who spent more than 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
Time posts, "Ballot Initiative of the Day: California’s Death-Penalty Ban," by Elizabeth Dias.
Election Day 2012 will decide more than the next President and control of 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.”
"Prop 34: Repeal Of The Death Penalty In California," is by Anna Almendrala at Huffington Post.
Prop 34, or the SAFE California initiative, would repeal the death penalty in California. Those already on death row (724 people) would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The measure would also give $100 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies for homicide and rape cases, but is expected to save about $130 million annually because death row sentencing appeals would cease.
Opponents of Prop 34 say that people on death row have earned their sentence due to their horrific crimes. They also say that the death penalty system needs to be reformed, not repealed.
Law.com posts, "If Prop 34 Fails, California Could See a Wave of Executions." It's by Scott Graham of Law.com's Recorder.
For nearly a decade, the state of Arizona didn't execute a soul. Judicial decisions and a dispute over lethal injection protocols had put the death penalty on hold.
But executions resumed in Arizona in 2010 and are now moving at a rapid clip: The state has executed 10 men in the past two years, more than any state other than Texas.
California, meanwhile, has not had an execution in six years because of its own issues with lethal injection. And voters will have the opportunity in November to ban capital punishment altogether.
Polling suggests the vote on Proposition 34 will be close, but the stakes may be even higher than they seem.
Even with a ban in place in California, executions are on the rise in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Six prisoners have been executed in its nine western states in 2012, the most since 1999. With 14 California inmates already at the end of the line on their habeas claims, and with the appellate court less willing — or able — to grant relief than it was just a few years ago, the pace of executions could easily reach a level unknown in California since the 1960s once the injection issues are resolved.
"It could happen. I think it's definitely plausible," said Berkeley criminal appeals specialist Cliff Gardner. "Has California ever seen anything like it? Not in our adult lifetimes. It may shock some people and may please others."
Earlier coverage of Prop. 34, the SAFE California ballot initiative, begins at the link.