Effort launched to end death penalty in CA

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A renewed debate on the death penalty kicked off Thursday as anti-execution advocates announced their campaign for Proposition 62. (KABC)

A renewed debate on the death penalty kicked off Thursday as anti-execution advocates announced their campaign for Proposition 62.

The core issue is how to punish the "worst of the worst." The measure abolishes the death penalty in California, and instead makes the maximum penalty for murder life in prison without possibility of parole.

It would also apply to those already sentenced to death row.

A mass shooter killed eight people in a Seal Beach salon, including Beth Webb's sister. But Webb still supports abolishing the death penalty.

"Neither me nor my mom will find closure in the death of another human being," Webb said at a downtown Los Angeles kickoff event for the measure.

California's death row has more inmates than any state in the nation. Voters will decide in November if and how they want to change that.

Civil-rights activists lined up with converts who once supported capital punishment, including the former district attorney of Los Angeles.

"Nearly every expert will tell you the death penalty is no deterrent," former DA Gil Garcetti said.

This is but the latest effort to overturn California's death penalty. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in 2012 by 4 percent.

Death penalty supporters including current district attorneys throughout the state announced in October that they are pushing Prop. 66, a competing measure to hasten the execution process.

"This is an initiative that will address the appellate delay," said Los Angeles County DA Jackie Lacey.

It can take five years for a death row inmate to obtain an appellate attorney. That wait time adds to the soaring costs of incarceration. Prop. 66 targets that delay, according to advocates, and lowers the boom on criminals.

"It is going to say you are going to pay the price," said Kermit Alexander, who lost several family members who were innocent victims in a gang shooting.

Death penalty opponents say that public opinion has changed since their last defeat.

Replacing lethal injections with life in prison would save $150 million a year according to state estimates.

"Yes on 62 will relieve our families and let us heal," Webb said.
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