End of Death Penalty in Calif. Heads to Ballot

The death penalty goes to the ballot this November.

Californians upset with capital punishment will be allowed to have their say this November about abolishing the practice of executing prisoners.

Opponents of the death penalty submitted to the state some 800,000 signatures, enough to qualify a ballot initiative that would end capital punishment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

If passed in the November election, the initiative would close California's Death Row, which at 725 prisoners is the largest in the United States, according to the newspaper.

One of the leaders of the initiative is a former warden of San Quentin State Prison, where the state's Death Row is located. The alternative to executions would be life imprisonment without parole, she said.

This could be a tough one to win, however. The death penalty has historically enjoyed high support in California: the state Supreme Court banned executions in 1972, only to have voters reinstate them a few years later.

The issue boils down to whether voters identify more with murderers or their victims, experts told the newspaper.

A 2006 court order halted all executions in California for unrelated reasons. They appear unlikely to resume in the near future regardless of the November vote, according to the newspaper.

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