When California voters pass Proposition 34 this November and replace the death penalty with life in prison with no possibility of parole, they will make history. But in the meantime, the Yes on 34 campaign is changing the minds of some powerful Californians by sharing the facts about the death penalty's steep fiscal and social costs.
For 155 years, the paper of record for the state capitol The Sacramento Bee has strongly supported the death penalty -- until last week.
The editorial board did not change its stance on the death penalty in absolute terms; they simply concluded that California's death penalty is hopelessly broken and cannot be fixed, and that it is "time to end the fiction."
The Bee called our state's death penalty a fiction because although taxpayers pay extravagantly for the nation's largest death row, few if any inmates are ever executed. Far more die of old age or suicide.
Because of the Bee's century-and-a-half of outspoken support of the death penalty, the editorial board chose to thoroughly and completely explain this change of heart by publishing a new editorial nearly every day last week. This series has effectively knocked down the arguments of Prop 34's opponents one by one, showing unequivocally that California cannot and will not ever have a functional death penalty. The only question is if the voters want to keep paying for the fiction.
In their first announcement of their endorsement for Yes on 34, entitled "Time to end the fiction of California's death penalty," the Bee explained that California pays exorbitantly more for death sentences than "a rock-solid sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole" and that every attempt to speed up the process has only cost taxpayers more money.
Nearly every day since that announcement, the Bee editorial board has taken on another argument against Prop 34.
Think the death penalty deters crime? Think again.
Equal justice for all? Not California's death penalty.
Want to speed up the system Texas-style? That would risk innocent lives, even if it were possible (it's not).
Still not sure how to vote on Prop 34? The Bee lays out why you should vote YES on 34.
The voters face an important decision this November, and the Bee rightly points out that this decision is not about whether death is right or wrong; it's about whether California can safely and efficiently administer a death penalty system that we can afford. In their extensive coverage, the Bee gives a clear and persuasive answer:
Vote YES on Proposition 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison with no possibility of parole. Protecting innocent lives and saving millions for the state budget is justice that works for everyone.