I am catching up with several days worth of California items. Let's begin with breaking news released this morning. In the next post, I'll link to editorials, OpEds, and other recent commentary.
California's Capitol Weekly posts, "For first time, backers outnumber foes in repealing death penalty," written by Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field.
The latest Field Poll finds that for the first time supporters outnumber opponents of Proposition 34, the statewide ballot initiative to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. Currently 45% of this state’s likely voters are voting Yes while 38% are voting No. But, a relatively large 17% remain undecided.
One of the factors propelling the increase in support of the initiative relates to the growing perception that the death penalty is more expensive to administer than housing a person in prison
for life. When asked about this in the current survey, 53% of likely voters now say the death penalty is more expensive than life in prison, while 31% think it is more expensive to house a convicted felon for life. This represents a significant change in voter opinion compared to past Field Poll measures. A September 2011 Field Poll found slightly more believing life in prison was more expensive than the death penalty (43% to 41%), while in 1989 greater than a two to one majority felt this way (54% to 26%).
The complete Field Poll survey is available in Adobe .pdf format.
The AP report is, "Poll: Support up for ending Calif. death penalty," by Don Thompson. It's via the CT Post.
Support is growing to end California's death penalty, but backers of an initiative on Tuesday's ballot still lack the majority needed to pass it, according to a Field Poll released Friday.
The survey found that 45 percent of likely voters support Proposition 34, which would end executions in favor of life imprisonment without parole, even for murderers already on death row. Thirty-eight percent oppose the measure, while nearly 1 in 5 voters remains undecided.
Support increased by 4 percentage points since a previous tracking poll was conducted in mid-October.
"They have a chance. It looks better than a few weeks ago because it's trending in their direction," said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.
But he said supporters of the initiative need undecided voters to lean their way if the measure is to prevail. Historically, most late-deciders have tended to vote "no."
"Field Poll shows measure to end death penalty gaining, but still lacking 50%," is the Sacramento Bee report by Sam Stanton. There is a graphic at the link.
With concern over the cost of capital punishment rising, California voters may be poised for a historic vote to abolish the state's death penalty, a new Field Poll indicates.
Support for the measure, Proposition 34, remains below 50 percent. But the poll released this morning found 45 percent of likely voters favor replacing the punishment with life in prison, while 38 percent oppose doing away with capital punishment.
Another 17 percent say they remain undecided.
"Calif. death penalty opponents say it's too costly," is an AP roundup of the California debate written by Paul Elias.
Death penalty opponents in California are trying a new argument this year: Abolish capital punishment because the perpetually cash-strapped state just can't afford it.
Voters in the state with the nation's largest death row will decide Tuesday whether to repeal the death penalty. Proponents of Proposition 34 say incarceration and litigation costs are too high for too little return.
California has spent about $4 billion since capital punishment resumed in 1977, yet just 13 inmates have been put to death.
An independent analysis says the state would save between $100 million and $130 million a year by converting death sentences to life-without-parole, money supporters say could be put toward public schools and local law enforcement investigations.
"The death penalty is a giant rathole where so much of California's budget is thrown with no discernible benefit," said Dionne Wilson, whose husband, a police officer, was killed by a man now on death row.
A supporter of Proposition 34, she said the death sentence given to her husband's killer "didn't change anything. I still don't have a husband and my children and family are devastated."
Opponents say the argument is merely a smoke screen by the American Civil Liberties Union and other longtime opponents of capital punishment.
The Los Angeles Times is providing intense coverage by it reporter Maura Dolan, including, "Serial killer's lone survivor torn by conscience," about Rose Steward who support Prop. 34. Doaln also writes, "Many death row inmates oppose bid to halt executions,"
A federal appeals court Monday overturned the death sentence of California’s longest serving death row inmate on the grounds that his defense lawyer failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of his murder trial.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided 2-1 that Douglas R. Stankewitz, convicted of murdering Theresa Greybeal in Fresno in 1978, should be re-sentenced to life without possibility of parole unless prosecutors retry the penalty phase of his murder case.
Death penalty trials are divided into two parts. The jury first decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If guilt is established, the jury then decides whether to recommend a death sentence or life without parole.
The 9th Circuit majority said Stankewitz’s lawyer presented only a “paltry” amount of evidence in trying to persuade jurors against a death sentence, ignoring extensive documentation of the defendant’s “deprived and abusive upbringing,” potential mental illness, long history of substance abuse and use of drugs leading up to the murder.
The Guardian reports, "California campaigners hope to see death penalty abolished on election day." It's written by Ed Pilkington.
Finally in this news roundup, let me point to one article on one case that has nothing and everything to do with Prop. 34. It is, "Death sentence of state's longest-serving death row inmate overturned," from the October 30 edition of the Los Angeles Times, also by Maura Dolan.
In the next post, editorials, OpEds, and additional commentary on Prop. 34.
Earlier coverage of Prop. 34, the SAFE California ballot initiative, begins at the link; also available, more on Prop. 34 at SAFE Caliornia.