24,491 of 24,491 (100%) precincts reporting
Last update: 11/07/2012 at 08:33pm
Source: Secretary of State
"Defeat of death penalty repeal brings move to ease executions in California," is the Sacramento Bee report by Sam Stanton and Andy Furillo.
After beating back a well-funded effort to abolish capital punishment in California, death penalty supporters said Wednesday that their efforts to have executions resume may include going to the voters in 2014.
"We may have to go to the ballot ourselves," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, one of the groups that helped defeat Proposition 34 Tuesday.
The defeat has no immediate impact on the administration of the death penalty, although both sides argued Wednesday that the campaign has focused new attention on the issue.
"There is no legal effect from defeating a proposition," Scheidegger said, "but there is a political effect and a psychological effect."
Natasha Minsker, the campaign manager for the effort to abolish the death penalty, argued that the results show nearly half of California voters are ready to scrap capital punishment and that such efforts will continue.
"We're really focused on having a conversation with the voters," she said. "What form that takes I don't know, but we need to continue the work and this is a step in the process."
The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports, "Defeat of Proposition 34: California's death penalty battle will continue." It's by Howard Mintz.
California's first ballot-box attempt in more than three decades to repeal the death penalty may have failed on Tuesday, but it is likely to inflame the debate over the hot-button issue as the state tries once again to kick-start its indisputably clumsy capital punishment system.
With 53 percent of the state's voters rejecting Proposition 34, both sides tried to claim the political high ground on Wednesday — each anticipating Californians will be asked again in the near future to either abolish the death penalty or, in the case of death penalty supporters, to overhaul the state's legal apparatus to get executions moving more swiftly.
In the meantime, the political feud will take a backstage to the status quo at San Quentin State Prison's death row, where 726 inmates await execution in a state that has had a moratorium on executions for nearly seven years. Legal challenges to the state's lethal injection method will resume. Death penalty advocates will push the state prison system to adopt a single-drug execution method to short-circuit the court battles. And at least 14 inmates have exhausted their legal appeals, raising the prospect California could have an unprecedented spate of executions if the legal obstacles are removed.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe will be the first to try to unclog the system next week, when he'll ask a judge to bypass state and federal court orders halting executions by allowing the state to immediately put condemned killer Robert Fairbank to death with a single lethal drug. California's three-drug procedure has been blocked by the courts for years, but death penalty supporters say California can join other states such as Washington, Arizona and Ohio in avoiding problems by using the lone drug option..
"With Prop 34 defeated, when will California's next execution happen?" is by Rina Palta for KPCC-FM, Southern California Public Radio.
California voters reaffirmed their long-standing support for the death penalty, rejecting Proposition 34 on Tuesday by about 6 percent.
What happens now?
The state houses 726 inmates on Death Row (226 of them from Los Angeles County, where Proposition 34 enjoyed considerable support). Currently, 13 death row inmates have exhausted all their appeals and are eligible for execution.
But executions are not likely to resume soon.
Capital punishment has been on hold in California since 2006, when a federal judge halted the execution of Michael Angelo Morales because the state's lethal injection method violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The judge who issued that ruling pointed to numerous issues with California's lethal injection protocol: poor training for execution team members; a cramped makeshift execution room that had been converted from San Quentin State Prison's old gas chamber; and mistakes in the use of an anesthetic that's one of three drugs in the lethal injection "cocktail" could inflict extreme pain on a dying inmate.
In the years since, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has made moves to change the execution process.
A state lawyer estimated that the official process for codifying any new protocol would take about 10 months. The state is also arguing in a separate court case that it shouldn't have to follow such an administrative procedure.
"Californians say they oppose death penalty, then vote for it," is Dan Turner's post at the Los Angeles Times Opinion L.A. blog.
For The Times' editorial board, Tuesday's election contained a lot of victories: 15, to be precise. That's the number of ballot measures or candidates endorsed by The Times that emerged victorious, compared with just four races in which our picks lost. But one of the losses was particularly tough, given that it was on an issue this paper's editorial page has been backing since the early 1970s: replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole.
The good news is that the Proposition 34 results show that public opinion definitely is changing, even if it's happening more slowly than many would like. In 1978, 71% of California voters approved an initiative reinstating the death penalty; in that context, the fact that only 52.8% now want to keep it looks like progress. Just as supporters of same-sex marriage learned in 2008, when voters approved Proposition 8 and changed the definition of marriage under the California Constitution to the union of one man and one woman, sometimes you catch the tide of history before it has turned. But it's still heading in only one direction, and in a few years it's likely to be battering at the walls of San Quentin.
Earlier coverage from California begins at the link.