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California's death penalty needs to be abolished. Putting aside the philosophical and spiritual questions about the immorality of the death penalty, it is costly, arbitrary, discriminatory, and unworkable. It serves no useful purpose while diverting needed resources from true public safety programs. (See, e.g., Death Rattle For CaliforniaCalifornia's Unusually Cruel Death PenaltyCalifornia's Dysfunctional Death PenaltyJust Say NoState of Barbarism.)

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Ending the death penalty in California can only be done by a ballot initiative. The statewide signature‑gathering effort to place such an initiative on the November 2012 ballot is being launched this week.

Over the next few days, the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act" will be introduced to voters by law enforcement leaders, murder victim family members, exonerated persons and notable campaign supporters in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

After that, it will be time to get busy -- raising funds, recruiting volunteers and gathering signatures.

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The SAFE California Act, if enacted, would replace California's multi‑billion dollar death penalty with life imprisonment without parole and require those convicted of murder to work and pay restitution to victim families through the victim compensation fund. The SAFE California Act would also set aside $100 million in budget saving for local law enforcement for the investigation of unsolved rape and murder cases.

According to Death Penalty Focus, the SAFE California Act will:

  • Replace California's death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole;
  • Require inmates to work and pay restitution to the victims' compensation fund; and
  • Allocate $100 million over three years to solve more murders and rapes in California and protect our families.

Death Penalty Focus also states that the SAFE California Act is an important law because:

  • Murders and rapists need to be caught and brought to justice. But 46% of murders and 56% of rapes go unsolved every year.
  • We need to use our limited resources to investigate and solve these crimes and keep our families safe, not on our broken death penalty.
  • With the death penalty, we will always risk executing innocent people.
  • Nationally, 139 people have been freed from death row after they were found to be innocent.

Since California voted to reinstate the death penalty in 1978, our state has spent $4 billion dollars to execute only 13 people. If the SAFE California Act is passed by voters on November 6, 2012, we will save $1 billion in only five years.

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Click here for more information, to join the effort, or to donate.

Andy Love
Fair and Unbalanced