Voters support reform of California’s death penalty. It has become ineffective because of waste, delays, and inefficiencies. Fixing it will save California taxpayers millions of dollars every year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families. Death row inmates have murdered over 1,000 victims, including 226 children and 43 police officers; 294 victims were raped and/or tortured. It’s time California reformed our death penalty process so it works. This initiative will ensure justice for both victims and defendants by reforming the appeals process, reforming death row housing and victim restitution, and reforming the appointment of appellate counsel and agency oversight.
Reforming the Appeals Process
- Expand the pool of available defense attorneys.
- Require that a defendant who is sentenced to death be appointed a lawyer at the time of sentence, rather than waiting for years just to get a lawyer.
- A defendant’s claim of actual innocence should not be limited, but frivolous and unnecessary claims should be restricted.
Reforming Death Row Housing and Victim Restitution
- According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, eliminating single cell housing of death row inmates will save tens of millions of dollars every year.
- Death row inmates should be required to work in prison and to pay restitution to their victims’ families consistent with the Victims’ Bill of Rights (Marsy’s law). Refusal to work and pay restitution should result in loss of special privileges.
Reforming the Appointment of Appellate Counsel and Agency Oversight
- Reforming the existing inefficient appeals process for death penalty cases will ensure fairness for both defendants and victims. Capital defendants wait five years or more for appointments of their appellate lawyer. By providing prompt appointment of attorneys, the defendant’s claims will be heard sooner.
- The state agency that is supposed to expedite secondary review of death penalty cases is operating without any effective oversight, causing long delays and wasting taxpayer dollars. California Supreme Court oversight of this state agency will ensure accountability.
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