Home>Articles>Bill That Would Allow Californians To Vote to Abolish Death Penalty Introduced in Assembly

Assemblyman Marc Levine. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill That Would Allow Californians To Vote to Abolish Death Penalty Introduced in Assembly

‘Few families truly forgive the person who murdered their loved ones’

By Evan Symon, December 15, 2020 2:59 pm

On Monday, a constitutional amendment bill that would let voters decide whether or not to abolish the death penalty in California was introduced to the Assembly.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 2, authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) would ultimately alter the state’s constitution and delete the death penalty provision, thus making it illegal for any crime in California. All prisoners who has received death penalty sentences would subsequently have to be re-sentenced.

ACA 2 would require 2/3rds of both the Assembly and Senate to appear on the 2024 ballot. While Governor Gavin Newsom did put a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019, that decision is only temporary and can be changed from Governor to Governor if they are willing to approve executions. Death penalty rulings have also been handed down since the moratorium, meaning that should it be reinstated in the future, executions can be put back on.

Assemblyman Levine, a longtime opponent of the death penalty who has previously attempted to pass a constitutional amendment banning the death penalty in the past, has said that the death penalty doesn’t stop crime, falsely kills the wrong people after DNA tests, and targets minorities more often than not, noting that 67% of death row are blacks and Latinos.

“California’s death penalty is a failed relic of a failed criminal justice system,” said Assemblyman Levine in a statement on Monday. “The death penalty does not deter serious crime, has been overly applied to minorities and has proven to be an expensive and flawed exercise in justice. I am proud to stand with many of my legislative colleagues in calling for an end to the cruel, inhumane and ineffective death penalty. It is time for California to join a growing number of states and bring an end to the fatally flawed death penalty once and for all.

“Unfortunately, Governor Newsom’s moratorium on state sanctioned executions has not stopped the death of condemned inmates in California. The death penalty is broken beyond repair. Now is the time for the Legislature and the voters of the state to end the failed death penalty once and for all by supporting ACA 2. This is a conversation that must include all Californians.

“Public opinion has moved to a place where most Californians are now opposing the death penalty.”

Levine also mentioned many prominent backers of removing he death penalty, including Governor Newsom, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and President-elect Joe Biden.

Opposition to ACA 2

However, opponents to ACA 2 have pointed out that proponents of the bill cares only more about criminals than the victims families, and prevents justice and closure for those hurt by the crimes.

“You have no idea what it is like,” former policeman and current grief counselor Patrick Conway explained to the Globe. “Few families truly forgive the person who murdered their loved ones.”

“The death penalty gives closure. There’s a family I worked with in Illinois who, due to a statewide ban on the death penalty, has had sleepless nights knowing that their sons killer was still alive living off of their tax money. That’s a type of anger you just don’t see anywhere else and it’s hard to explain. They did everything they could for closure, to get justice, but in the end weren’t allowed to see it through.”

“And in California, it got to a point with victims families this year that when a death row criminal died of COVID-19, the family, also one I work with, cheered and praised the virus for doing what the state couldn’t. That’s how [messed] up our system is right now. It has made a few people happy about COVID-19. Actually more than that probably. 13 on death row here died of COVID-19, and more have in other states too.

“This law they’re trying to pass, Californians have said again and again they don’t want it to end. And this is exactly the reason.”

Similar recent propositions have previously failed in California. In 2012, Proposition 34 failed 52% to 48% in attempting to ban the death penalty, and in 2016 the gap was even larger with Proposition 62 coming in at 53% to 47%. Both these, the anti-death penalty supporters had vastly outspent the pro-death penalty supporters.

ACA 2 is expected to be voted on in the Assembly soon.

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4 thoughts on “Bill That Would Allow Californians To Vote to Abolish Death Penalty Introduced in Assembly

  1. Assemblyman Levine lies when he says the death penalty has been overly applied to minorities. According to the Death Penalty Information Center since 1976: 521 Blacks have been executed (34.1%), 129 Latinos have been executed (8.4%), and 853 Whites have been executed (55.8%). The voters of California rejected ending the death penalty in two consecutive general elections: 2012 and 2016. It’s time for liberals like Levine to quit lying and tell the truth.

  2. Yes let us get rid of the death penalty just in time for thousands of Democrats (and a few RINO’s) to be charged with treason for conspiring with China to overthrown the government.

  3. I don’t know what the “death penalty” is anymore. It’s cruel and unusual to keep folks in limbo. Life without hope is cruel, but life with hopium is crueler still. In 2016, California passed a reform that was supposed to fix things. I was on the fence – and then the Elan Gonzales case happened where the defendant – Isauro Aguirre – needed to be put out of his misery. Maybe Aguirre is an Obama-era psyop, but the whole thing is broken.

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