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California voters oppose ending state's death penalty

Death row at San Quentin State Prison. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Death row at San Quentin State Prison. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

More than half of voters oppose a November ballot measure that would abolish the California death penalty, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey.

Proposition 62, which would replace capital punishment with life without parole, had 40% support among the 1,909 registered voters polled in September across the state. Nine percent had no answer.

It is one of two measures on the future of the death penalty that voters will weigh on Nov. 8. Both capital punishment initiatives would require current death row inmates to work and pay restitution to victims but take opposing approaches to what the measures both call a broken system.

Proposition 66 would keep the death penalty, limiting the number of petitions prisoners can file to challenge their convictions and sentences, and providing new deadlines intended to expedite appeals.

The poll only surveyed on Prop. 62, which has garnered some high-profile supporters, including California billionaire Tom Steyer and Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter

A campaign to defeat Prop. 62 and support Prop. 66 has wide support from law enforcement officials across California.

Jacob Hay, a spokesman for the campaign in favor of the measure, disputed the results, saying internal polling using the full ballot language — including its fiscal impact — showed Prop. 62 in the lead.

"Voters move quickly towards Prop. 62 when they learn about the $150 million in annual savings Prop. 62 brings and how it guarantees California never executes an innocent person," Hay said. "Prop. 62 is the only real solution to a failed system that has cost $384 million per execution, delivers no crime prevention benefits, and is an empty promise to victims’ families."

Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, a Prop. 66 supporter, disagreed. "This poll is consistent with what we see in other polls that show Californians support the death penalty but they want it fixed, and this is what Prop. 66 does," she said.

 

An earlier version of this post incorrectly said more than 51% of voters oppose the proposition. It is 51% of voters.  

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