Essential Politics October archive

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorses ballot measure to repeal the death penalty in California

 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) on Friday announced her support for a proposition that would repeal the death penalty in California, calling the practice "cruel and unusual punishment" under the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

"Even the most heinous of crimes can be punished without killing," she said. "As Pope Francis said in his address to Congress, where he reaffirmed his advocacy for the global abolition of the death penalty: ‘every human person is endowed with an unalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.’"

Pelosi is among a string of top political leaders, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and celebrities to come out in support of Proposition 62, which would replace the punishment with life in prison without parole and apply life sentences retroactively to death row inmates. The initiative is one of two competing death penalty measures on the Nov. 8 ballot.  

She also is among fewer political leaders to denounce the death penalty itself on moral grounds.

“I oppose the death penalty because too many defendants have not had access to appropriate legal counsel; because poor people – especially in communities of color – have been disproportionately charged with capital crimes and sentenced to death, compared with more affluent defendants; and, so many people have been exonerated with DNA evidence.  It is time for us to take a moral stand.”

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