Proposition 34, if passed, would have replaced the death penalty with life in prison without parole and saved California $130 million a year by eliminating appeals, while keeping killers behind bars. It also would have ensured that an innocent person was never executed.
My mom and I attended a symposium where we listened to the testimonies of men who were wrongfully convicted of murder. Frankie Carillo, who at my same age was sentenced to life, amazed me with his inner peace after 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He inspired us to volunteer. My mom neglected to tell me we would be phone banking. Calling strangers. It was terrifying. Calling on Sunday evenings, people hung up, swore, or didn’t have the time. And then someone would want to hear more. People would even say “thank you.” The feeling that I helped influence just one vote that could potentially save a life was unmatchable.
This is democracy, where a 16-year-old can have an opinion about something intense like capital punishment, make phone calls, and get cussed out by a 60-year-old woman. America is a fantastic country. It still blows me away that as one of the most powerful and innovative countries in the civilized world, we are among the few that still execute people. This shamefully puts us in the same company as Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.
Even though it lost by 6%, Proposition 34 raised awareness about the human and financial costs of our current system. I have faith that California will join the 17 other states in America and eliminate the death penalty in our near future.