This page shows the official arguments written by the Prop 62 campaign and included in the California Voter Guide, along with analysis and additional information provided by the Death Penalty Information Center. Arguments that are verified by DPIC research are highlighted in green, while arguments that are known to be false or misleading are highlighted in red. Arguments that may be incomplete, unverified, or otherwise potentially misleading are highlighted in yellow. Click the footnote number of each highlight to see DPIC’s explanation.
California’s death penalty system has failed. Taxpayers have spent more than $5 billion since 1978 to carry out 13 executions—a cost of $384 million per execution.1-107
The death penalty is an empty promise to victims’ families and carries the unavoidable risk of executing an innocent person.
YES ON 62 REPLACES THIS COSTLY, FAILED SYSTEM WITH A STRICT LIFE SENTENCE AND ZERO CHANCE OF PAROLE
Under Prop. 62, the death penalty will be replaced with a strict life sentence. Those convicted of the worst crimes will NEVER be released. Instead of being housed in expensive private cells on death row, murderers will be kept with other maximum-security inmates.2-107
WORK AND RESTITUTION
Criminals who would otherwise sit on death row and in courtrooms during the decades-long appeals guaranteed by the Constitution will instead have to work and pay restitution to their victims’ families.3-107
REAL CLOSURE FOR VICTIMS’ FAMILIES4-107
“California’s death penalty system is a long, agonizing ordeal for our family. As my sister’s killer sits through countless hearings, we continually relive this tragedy. The death penalty is an empty promise of justice. A life sentence without parole would bring real closure.”—Beth Webb, whose sister was murdered with seven other people in a mass-shooting at an Orange County hair salon.
HUGE COST SAVINGS CONFIRMED BY IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS
The state’s independent Legislative Analyst confirmed Prop. 62 will save $150 million per year.5-107 A death row sentence costs 18 times more than life in prison. Resources can be better spent on education, public safety, and crime prevention that actually works.6-107
DEATH PENALTY SYSTEM FLAWS RUN DEEP
California has not executed anyone in 10 years because of serious problems. For nearly 40 years, every attempted fix has failed to make the death penalty system work. It’s simply unworkable.7-107
“I prosecuted killers using California’s death penalty law, but the high costs, endless delays and total ineffectiveness in deterring crime convinced me we need to replace the death penalty system with life in prison without parole.”—John Van de Kamp, former Los Angeles District Attorney and former California Attorney General.
THE RISK OF EXECUTING AN INNOCENT PERSON IS REAL
DNA technology and new evidence have proven8-107 the innocence of more than 150 people on death row after they were sentenced to death.9-107 In California, 66 people had their murder convictions overturned because new evidence showed they were innocent.10-107
Carlos DeLuna was executed in 1989, but an independent investigation later proved his innocence.11-107 Executing an innocent person is a mistake that can never be undone.
FORMER DEATH PENALTY ADVOCATES: YES ON 62
“I led the campaign to bring the death penalty back to California in 1978. It was a costly mistake. Now I know we just hurt the victims’ families we were trying to help and wasted taxpayer dollars. The death penalty cannot be fixed. We need to replace it, lock up murderers for good, make them work, and move on.”—Ron Briggs, led the campaign to create California’s death penalty system.
JEANNE WOODFORD, Former Death Row Warden
DONALD HELLER, Author of California’s Death Penalty Law
BETH WEBB, Sister of Victim Murdered in 2011
Currently death row inmates are housed in a special unit in San Quentin. Prop 62 allows prisoners to be re-assigned to other California prisons, where they will be treated similarly to other inmates. Prop 66 would also re-assign these prisoners to other California prisons without eliminating the death penalty.↩
Currently death row inmates do not work in prison because of their special status as death row inmates. By eliminating the death penalty, Prop 62 would reclassify these inmates similarly to other inmates.↩
“Closure” for victims is a complicated emotional and psychological process that varies drastically from person to person. Voters should not infer that all families of victims experience “closure” in the same way. See: Closure? The Execution Was Just the Start And: VICTIMS: Murder Victim’s Daughter Says “Broken” Death Penalty Doesn’t Bring Closure and is “A Waste”↩
Financial savings from Prop 62 have been confirmed by impartial analysis and the experience of other states that have repealed the death penalty. Prop 62 contains no provisions that may incur unforeseen costs. See Fiscal Impact.↩
Prop 62 contains no provisions that re-allocate money saved to education or other specific expenditures. Financial savings would be reflected in the state’s General Fund for use in any government expenditure.↩
California has attempted numerous legislative changes to the death penalty system in the past 40 years, but executions have remained infrequent.↩
While more than 150 people have been exonerated from death row, their exonerations were not necessarily because of DNA technology and new evidence. In some cases, courts found the evidence presented at trial to be insufficient to have justified a prosecution in the first place. In a few cases, courts found police and prosecutorial misconduct to be so egregious that, after overturning the wrongful conviction and death sentence, they barred the prosecution from seeking to retry the defendant.↩
For more information about Carlos DeLuna see: INNOCENCE: New Evidence That Texas May Have Executed an Innocent Man↩