Ballot Spotlight: Propositions 62 and 66

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Chelsea Viola
National Beat Reporter

Propositions 62 and 66 are two conflicting measures on the California ballot regarding the state’s death penalty.

Proposition 62 proposes the outright repeal of the death penalty in California, making capital punishment illegal henceforth. Conversely, Proposition 66 aims to expedite the legal process that challenges the death sentences and to set the maximum litigation window to five years.

California is one of 30 states in the United States where capital punishment is legal. Prop 62 aims to repeal the death penalty and would institute the maximum punishment for murder as life in prison without possibility of parole. The convicted on death row would also be required to pay restitution to the victim’s families, amassing a majority of the convict’s wages.

If passed, Prop 62 would also apply to all previous cases before the bill’s passing date.

From an overview of state history, California voters have shown support on capital punishment. The California Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional in 1972. In 1978, voters passed Proposition 7, which reinstated the death penalty.

The most recent ballot measure on the death penalty was proposed in 2012 as Proposition 34, however, was defeated by four percent at the polls.

Proposition 66 would keep the death penalty in its place of maximum punishment but would change judicial procedures to establish a time frame for death penalty review.

As of 2012, the average amount of time between sentencing and execution is 19 months, resulting an average overall time of 15 years and five months in judicial appeals.

Prop 66 would require appointed attorneys to work specifically on death row cases in order to expedite the appealing process. Prop 60 would also require prisoners on death row to work while in prison to pay restitution to the victim’s family.

If both measures pass, the proposition with the higher percentage of ‘yes’ will supercede the other.

The opposition on Prop 62 is a joint campaign with ‘Yes on 66,’ known as the Californians to Mend, Not End, the Death Penalty Campaign.

The official statement of the ‘Yes on 66’ campaign addresses the current faults of the capital punishment judicial proceedings.

“We agree California’s current death penalty system is broken.The most heinous criminals sit on death row for 30 years, with endless appeals delaying justice and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions.”

On the Yes on 66/No on 62 website, there is an infographic stating the casualties inflicted by those on death row: “1,000 Total Victims; 226 Child Victims; 294 Raped/Tortured.”

The ‘Yes on 62’ campaign argues against the death penalty, calling it a “costly and failed system.”

The ‘Yes on 62’ side highlights particular points in their argument. According to the ‘Yes on 62’ website, five billion dollars has been spent through death row appeals since 1978.

Out of the 1,046 prisoners sentenced to death row, only 13 executions have occurred since 1977, averaging the cost of $348 million per execution.

According to the ‘Yes on 62’ official statement, “Under Prop 62, the death penalty will be replaced with a strict life sentence. Those convicted of the worst crimes will NEVER be released. Instead of being housed in expensive private cells on death row, murderers will be kept with other maximum-security inmates.”

This official statement was co-authored by Beth Webb, the sister of a mass shooting victim at an Orange County hair salon.

“California’s death penalty system is a long, agonizing ordeal for our family. As my sister’s killer sits through countless hearings, we continually relive this tragedy. The death penalty is an empty promise of justice. A life sentence without parole would bring real closure,” Webb wrote.

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