Death penalty opponents are speaking out against a proposed reform initiative sponsored by three former California governors.
The death penalty reform initiative, sponsored by former California Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, will appear on the November ballot if backers can gather the more than 800,000 needed signatures.
The initiative would limit death row appeals to five years, remove inmates from death row housing and place them in general population, transfer appeals cases to lower courts and require prisoners to work in prison and pay restitution.
Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, a nonprofit group fighting to abolish the death penalty in California, said this initiative will only make things worse:
“The vision of faster, cheaper justice that is also safe is just a deadly mirage. Instead of increasing the risk of executing innocent people and adding even more costs, we need to replace the dysfunctional death penalty system with life in prison.”
Meanwhile, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee suspended executions in his state Feb. 11 citing cost and fairness concerns. This move aligns Washington with the 18 states that have already abolished the death penalty.
California last executed one of its 700 death row inmates in 2006.
Cherry said other states have made the right decision to end the death penalty and replace it with life without parole:
“Let’s face it: the current death penalty system is flawed and this initiative will only make things worse, not better. The only workable solution is to replace the death penalty before we speed an innocent person to their death at the hands of the state.”