Initiative would save taxpayers $150 million by replacing California’s failed death penalty law with life in prison without parole
Party also votes to oppose deceptive initiative that would add costs and jam up justice system
LOS ANGELES – The Justice That Works campaign released the following statement on the California Democratic Party’s endorsement in support of the Justice That Works Act:
We thank the California Democratic Party for their strong support of the Justice That Works Act as the only real solution for a failed death penalty system. The Justice That Works Act will replace death row with life in prison without parole, provide certain justice to victims’ families, require serious offenders to work and pay restitution, and save taxpayers $150 million annually.
Over the coming months, we will continue building a strong coalition in support of the Justice That Works Act. Our diverse group of supporters already includes former death penalty supporters, victims’ families, law enforcement experts, and faith, civil rights, labor and community leaders.
In addition to supporting the Justice That Works Act, the California Democratic Party voted to oppose a measure that seeks to double-down on the death penalty. The poorly designed and deceptively named initiative will make the problems worse and more expensive by building death rows around the state, adding new rounds of appeals, handing over death penalty cases to inexperienced attorneys, and jamming up an already over-stretched justice system, according to criminal law experts. “That an intended “fix” is so complicated, confusing, and costly, proves just how fundamentally unworkable the death penalty is,” said the Justice That Works Campaign.
Currently, the death penalty costs 18 times as much to administer as life in prison without parole. California taxpayers have spent $5 billion since 1978 to put thirteen people to death, at a cost of $384 million per execution.
In addition to being costly, the death penalty has proven to be ineffective justice. It drags out the legal process for decades, denying closure to many victims’ families. Due to its arbitrary application and other factors, the death penalty does not achieve any of its supposed crime deterring benefits according to a 2012 National Academy of Sciences study. The death penalty system has also come under criticism for racial and economic bias.
Despite lengthy appeals guaranteed by constitutional due process rights, the risk of executing an innocent person is unavoidable. It is conservatively estimated four percent of all death row inmates were wrongfully convicted and are actually innocent.
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