The death penalty: Two sides of the same coin

Proposition 62 by Stephen Im


A yes vote on Proposition 62 and no vote of Proposition 66 will put an end to the death penalty in California along with the broken system that has executed a total of 13 people since 1978 costing taxpayers $5 billion.

Be aware, Proposition 62 and Proposition 66 contradict one another and while the passing of proposition 66 intends on fixing the pricey form of criminal punishment, repealing the death penalty in California is a must.

If California were to repeal the death penalty, the state would become the 21st in the nation to do so.

Since 2007, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York have repealed the death penalty.

Although victims’ families seek to find closure, our current system allows for multiple appeals filed by death row inmates, elongating their day of execution.

The death penalty doesn’t reduce crime, it only, at least for those on California’s death row, means standing in a lethal injection queue.

Proposition 62 supporters have voiced their reasons to repeal the death penalty including fiscal savings, providing true closure for victims’ families and avoiding the possibility of executing an innocent person.

At what point to do we draw the line on punishment? Governing bodies in capital punishment states have been given the authority to end a life that perpetuates the ancient form of an eye and for an eye mentality.

Executions conjure up images of the guillotine, lynching ropes, electric chairs and gas chambers.

A prison sentence without the possibility of parole, facing every day until life withers away is plenty consequence for the guilty.

Since 2006, 56 death row inmates in California have died. But only one of them was executed. The other 55 have either died of natural causes or suicide.

Those opposed to repealing the death penalty but have visions of fixing the broken system, have summed it up in their slogan, “Mend, not end the death penalty.”

Their solution is found in Proposition 66, which is written with intent to speed up the process of death row execution by limiting the appeals process

Those for Proposition 66 say the passing of proposition 62 would cost taxpayers millions per year housing inmates.

If the death penalty were to remain, does it open a new fast lane to the lethal injection room?

Will the changes make a difference from the different system?

If so, we have to answer these questions by the lives being executed.

What a morbid way of gaining statistics.

For comparison sake, Texas has executed six people in 2016 alone, 89 since 2010 and a total of 537 since 1982.

These numbers suggest their system is working.

Come this November Election Day, take your feelings of fiscal responsibility, the fragility of life and the need for ending a broken system and vote yes on Prop 62 and no on Prop 66.


Proposition 66 by Emily Hermosillo


California needs to vote yes for Proposition 66 in order to fix death penalty procedures and save tens of millions of dollars annually.

Proposition 66 would cut these expenses by: limiting the number of appeals, letting the Supreme Court make decisions on petitions that challenge sentencing, requiring appointed attorneys to accept death penalty appeals, having a strict time frame for death penalty review.

Proposition 62 suggests the death penalty should be replaced with life without parole.

It is clear that something has to change, but getting rid of the death penalty all together is not the answer.

A field poll released January concluded that California voters are torn with 48 percent wanting to make the process more efficient while 47 percent want to get rid of the death penalty altogether.

United States Circuit Judge Arthur Alarcon and Paula Mitchell, Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, conducted “Costs of Capital Punishment in California: Will Voters Choose Reform this November?” which assessed the costs for the death penalty and found that over $4 billion have been spent in California alone since 1978.

Only thirteen people have been executed in California since 1978 with the most recent execution occurring a decade ago. There are currently 746 death row inmates.

The cost of incarceration is less than
one-fourth of the expenses. What makes up most of the money is trials, retrials, appeals and petitions which can prolong a sentencing for decades and 42 percent of the money is spent on trials and pre-trials alone.

Both options are expensive, and while supporters of repealing the death penalty will point out that it is currently more expensive to execute than to keep alive, it does not have to stay that way.

Putting the Supreme Court in charge of petitions challenging the sentencing and by establishing a time frame for death penalty review will improve the process.

The death penalty is held in reserve for the individuals that are the highest risk to society.

If given a life sentence there is the possibility of shortening their term, getting off on parole or in extreme cases, escaping.

In the past, governors have changed or limited the sentencing of prisoners that had life without parole.

Precautions need to be taken, it is nearly impossible to tell if a criminal is looking for redemption or just an escape.

“The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology,” by University of Colorado-Boulder Chair of the Department of Sociology Michael Radelet, reports that 88 percent of professional criminologists do not believe the death penalty is a deterrent to homicide.

People will continue to commit horrible crimes regardless if the death penalty is in place or not, what matters is preventing future harm to society.

The death penalty needs to be quick and efficient and it needs to remain in place.

Registered voters of California should take interest in improving a system put in place to protect them by voting yes on Proposition 66.