Today's Los Angeles Times publishes the editorial, "Proposition 34's common-sense appeal."
Proposition 34, the measure to replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, appears to be struggling. Last month, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found the initiative trailing 38% to 51%, although other surveys, such as a Field Poll released in September, showed a closer margin of 42% in favor and 45% against.
But there may be enough undecided voters in California to sway the outcome in either direction. If they can replace visceral notions of revenge with a thoughtful examination of the morality, cost and effectiveness of capital punishment, they will put this long-delayed and badly needed policy change in place.
With both sides recently releasing their campaign salvos, the "no" side is going for the emotional jugular — so much so that it often seems to abandon logic altogether.
The Yes on 34 campaign's ads, released this week, appeal more directly to voters' common sense. A TV commercial tells the story of Francisco "Franky" Carrillo, sentenced as a juvenile to two life terms in prison for a murder he didn't commit and exonerated after 20 years behind bars. Stories like his are the main reason The Times has endorsed Proposition 34: Courts are not 100% reliable, and although there's little doubt that most death row inmates are reprehensible people who may deserve their fate, there is no knowing whether all 725 of them are guilty. That's why the appeals process is so long, burdensome and expensive, and it's why voters should end the risk that California will execute an innocent person.http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/capital-375481-serious-crimes.html
A billboard sitting on a hill next to Plymouth United Church of Christ in Oakland reads “Abolish the Death Penalty,” and there’s a “Yes on 34” placard pinned just below. More posters supporting Proposition 34 are scattered around the church—on a bulletin board in the sanctuary and on the door outside.
Like many of Oakland’s religious leaders, the leaders of Plymouth Church have endorsed Prop. 34. If passed on November 6, it would repeal the death penalty in California and force inmates on Death Row to instead serve life sentences without the possibly of parole, while also requiring them to pay restitution to the families of victims.
Several leaders in Oakland’s Christian and Jewish communities say capital punishment goes against the sanctity of life that is preached in these religions. “The sign is a statement to the community,” said retired Pastor Bob Matthews as he opened a door leading to the church’s garden, which overlooks the sign. “This is what we stand for.”
“Jesus said, ‘Turn the other cheek,’” Matthews said. “What we seem to say as a society is, ‘Turn the other cheek so I can cut it off.’”
There is also commentary on the ballot measure. "Look What You Can Do," by MC Hammer at Huffington Post; "Capital punishment is necessary; No on Prop. 34," by Benjamin Zycher of the Pacific Research Institute in the Orange County Register; and, "Vote no on Proposition 34 and retain the death penalty," by Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
Earlier coverage of Prop. 34, the SAFE California ballot initiative, begins at the link; also available, more on Prop. 34 at SAFE Caliornia.