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ELECTION BRIEFS: Prop 62 & 66 - Death penalty

"Day 36/366.....I Voted," by Flickr user Denise Cross Photography. Used under CC BY 2.0. Cropped and overlaid with text.

Both supporters and opponents of capital punishment agree that California’s death penalty has major issues.

Right now, about 750 prisoners are housed on California’s death row, but only 13 have been executed since the 1970s. In fact, there hasn’t been an execution since 2006, when a federal judge ordered executions to stop over concerns about the state’s lethal injection process.

Prop 62 would abolish the death penalty. If the measure passes, death row inmates would have their sentences switched to life without the possibility of parole.

Civil rights groups, some religious organizations, and most of the state’s prominent Democrats support Prop 62. So far, the "yes" side has raised nearly $6.5 million. Supporters think the death penalty is too expensive, or inhumane, or both.

Supporters of Prop 66, on the other hand, want to “mend, not end” California’s death penalty. Prop 66 would speed up the legal process. It would limit the number of appeals prisoners can file and compel qualified attorneys to take up those appeals.

Prop 66 is backed by law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, and the California Republican Party. They argue that the death penalty is necessary to punish society’s worst criminals and bring closure to victims. So far, Prop 66 supporters have spent nearly $5 million to speed up the death penalty.

Here's the takeaway: if you want to vote to abolish the death penalty, vote yes on Prop 62; if you want to speed it up, vote yes on Prop 66. If both measures pass, the measure with the most votes will become law.

Citizen respondents to KALW's elections call-out contributed to this post. Our call-outs are part of our community reporting project.