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Death Penalty Initiatives Certified for November Ballot

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June 23, 2016

The initiative to eliminate the use of California’s death penalty law has officially qualified for this November’s ballot.

The measure to revoke capital punishment in the state collected almost 405,000 signatures – well above the 365,000 verifiable signatures required for certification.

California, the most populous state in the country, has the largest population of death row inmates. Repealing the law would change the death sentences of almost 750 convicted inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In a study published in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Judge Arthur L. Alarcon concluded that since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978,  “taxpayers have spent roughly $4 billion to fund a dysfunctional death penalty system that has carried out no more than 13 executions."

Catholic Bishops have been very vocal in the past of their support for measures abolishing the use of capital punishment, declaring that state-sanctioned killing diminishes us all and the application of capital punishment is flawed and inconsistent. The Bishops have actively campaigned to support similar measures, establishing The Catholic Campaign to End the Use of The Death Penalty. The Catholic Mobilizing Network’s Mercy In Action Project seeks to promote clemency for those facing imminent execution.

A competing measure that would require inmates to be executed after ten years on death row has also been certified for November’s election. The initiative collecting the most votes on November 8 will go on to become law.

Keep an eye out for the CCC’s upcoming coverage of all initiatives that will appear on the ballot – including those that the California Bishops will formally endorse or oppose. For more information on California’s death penalty law, visit the CCC website at www.cacatholic.org/death-penalty.

Judge Arthur L. Alarcón and Paula M. Mitchell, Costs of Capital Punishment in California: Will Voters Choose Reform this November?, 46 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. S1 (2012).