The California Abolition Bill Is Moving

August 10, 2011

against the death penaltyEarlier this summer, California State Senator Lori Hancock introduced a death penalty repeal bill (SB-490), after a study found that her state spends the exorbitant amount of $184 million dollars annually to keep capital punishment on the books.

The bill has already passed its first committee hurdle, and will have another hearing next week.

On July 5, speaking before the Assembly Public Safety Committee was former prosecutor Donald Heller, who authored California’s death penalty law back in 1978. He said: “I fervently believe that capital punishment should be abolished,” and he called for savings from death penalty repeal to be used to support law enforcement.

A former warden of San Quentin State Prison, Jeanne Woodford, testified that the death penalty in California is “wasteful”, “counterproductive to public safety” and “terribly unfair to the victims’ families”.

On July 7, the bill was approved by the Public Safety Committee, by a 5-2 vote; it now has an August 17 hearing in Appropriations.

Senator Hancock applauded the bill’s momentum, stating, “This is a welcome first step to correcting an expensive failure of our justice system.” Of capital punishment in California, she said:  “It is not protecting us; it is bankrupting us.”

Let California lawmakers know that you support this bill.  The death penalty is not only a violation of basic human rights, it is ineffective, wasteful, and crowds out policies that actually work to deter crime and deliver justice to murder victims’ families.