Calling for the Conversion of All Death Sentences in California to Life Without the Possibility of Parole

Passed 4/4/2011

WHEREAS, California currently has the largest and most expensive death row in the United States — with over 700 prisoners costing $126 million per year above the cost of life without possibility of parole for the same inmates and a new death row facility set to be constructed at San Quentin costing more than $400 million — the Governor can cut the onerous cost of the death penalty from the state budget by converting all death sentences to life without possibility of parole, avoiding the need for a new facility and saving $1 billion in five years, all without releasing a single prisoner; and

WHEREAS, the alternative of life without the possibility of parole ensures swift and certain justice for victims’ family members and allows for offenders to be held accountable by making them work to pay restitution, while the death penalty is a hollow promise that drags victims’ families through decades of painful court hearings and is ranked last by law enforcement leaders as a way to reduce violent crime, identified by them as the least efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars; while sixteen states have abolished the death penalty and

WHEREAS, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a bi-partisan panel of criminal justice experts named by the Senate, found that California is at risk of executing an innocent person and the Commission recommended several reforms to reduce the risk of wrongful conviction and wrongful execution, but none of these reforms have been implemented, and the California Democratic Party supports replacement of capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party calls for Governor Jerry Brown to convert all death sentences to life without the possibility of parole, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the State Assembly Judiciary Committee on Judiciary, the State Senate Judiciary Committee, and the State Supreme Court.