California’s budget debacle is more dire than ever, so it’s no surprise that Governor Jerry Brown is hunkering down in search of solutions as he approaches the California Democratic Party’s state convention at the end of the month. But some of his fellow Democrats and a growing number of other organizations around the state are staring one budget solution in the face and just want Jerry to open his eyes: CUT THIS!
The state’s death penalty is an ineffective waste of tax dollars that we simply can’t afford, yet while the Governor and Assembly slash everything from preschool to geriatric care, the state remains poised to spend $1 billion on the death penalty over the next five years.
That’s a billion dollars that can be saved with a few strokes of the Governor’s pen – all he has to do is convert the death sentences of those awaiting execution to life without parole, and POOF! The death penalty is cut from the budget and California saves $1 billion without releasing a single prisoner.
While he’s been acting oblivious to this fact, plenty of others around the state aren’t. The ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and leaders in the California Democratic Party are alerting the Governor to this solution.
The California Democratic Party woke up to the problems with the death penalty last year. That’s when the state party formally adopted death penalty repeal in its platform, calling for replacing capital punishment with permanent imprisonment to promote safe communities. Now, activists around the state are organizing the party on a grassroots level to take the next step and demand that Governor Brown convert California’s death sentences to life without parole for instant budget savings.
Ironically enough, this latest groundswell originated in LA County, the state’s leader in death sentences. That’s where last month the Los Angeles County Democratic Party overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the Governor to cut the death penalty and save $1 billion by converting death sentences to life without parole, then submitted that resolution for consideration by the state party. Now dozens of Democratic committees, clubs, officials, activists and delegates have joined the movement to demand that Governor Brown recognize the budget solution that saves money while providing real criminal justice reform.
The California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento is fast approaching – April 29 to May 31. That’s where the party’s leadership will consider the resolution and decide whether the entire California Democratic Party will call on our Governor – their fellow Democrat – to follow through with his party’s principles and cut the death penalty.
I plan to be there representing the LA County Coalition for Death Penalty Alternatives, working with activists from around the state to educate delegates about the death penalty’s costly and unfixable flaws.
But even if you can’t make it to Sacramento, we need the help of activists all over the world to ensure that Governor Brown knows that millions of people everywhere support this common sense reform that creates real justice, real accountability, and real savings. Tell Jerry to Cut This.
James Clark is a writer for Change.org and an anti-death penalty campaigner based in Southern California.