If California voters suspend the death penalty in November, they will have removed one-quarter of the nation's current death row population.Read the rest here.
The initiative -- which got enough signatures Monday to be placed on the ballot -- could return the state's 723 death row inmates to the general prison population, the Los Angeles Times reported. Their sentences would be reduced to life without parole and they would be expected to work; their earnings would go to crime victims.
California’s death row ballooned in size because, simply put, the state rarely executes its inmates, said Richard Dieter, executive director of Death Penalty Information Center.
Compare California to Texas, for example – both states sentence about 20 people to death every year, Dieter said. But while Texas executes one inmate a month, sometimes even one per week, California hasn't executed anyone since 2006.
The Times reported that California has executed 13 inmates since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, and that death row inmates are far more likely to die of old age.
“California is very ambivalent about the death penalty,” Dieter said.