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Lawmaker Seeks to Abolish Death Penalty

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Democratic Senator Loni Hancock is behind bill to abolish the death penalty here in California. Hancock calls capital punishment "an expensive failure." NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports.

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The death penalty may retake center stage in California, courtesy State Senator Loni Hancock who says she wants to ban it entirely, and soon.

Calling capital punishment "an expensive failure," Hancock said she will introduce legislation next week to abolish it.

The bill would convert existing death sentences to life without the possibility of parole.

Hancock's legislation is timed to coincide with the release of a Los Angeles Law Review report that puts the cost of maintaining death row for its 714 inmates at $184 million a year.

The total cost through 2030 is estimated at $5 billion.

The report will be published next week, but Hancock and others have already had a peek.

Hancock's legislation would require approval by voters if it passes the Legislature.

Taxpayers have paid $4 billion for the 13 executions performed since 1978, according to the report, putting the cost of each execution at $308 million.

Despite the cost, victims' advocate Marc Klaas said he disagrees with Hancock's plan.

Klaas' daughter Polly was kidnapped from her bedroom during a slumber party in 1993. Her case became a lightening rod for stricter sentencing, which led to California's Three Strikes law.

The case did not impact the state's death penalty laws. Richard Allen Davis was found guilty of murdering Klaas and was sentenced to death in 1996. He remains on death row.

"There's a guy who kidnapped raped and murdered my 12-year-old daughter who was sentenced to death per the laws of California and now there are people who are working to make laws to spare his life," Klaas said. "It's just absolutely unbelievable."

Related Topics death penalty, cash, abolish
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