Former supporters of the death penalty in California now favor the proposition for abolishment of capital punishment that will be put to a vote on Nov. 6, reports the Los Angeles Times. The include Donald Heller, who wrote the 1978 ballot measure that expanded California’s death penalty; Ronald Briggs, whose father spearheaded the campaign and who worked to achieve its passage, and Jeanne Woodford, a career corrections official who presided over four executions. They now contend the state no longer can afford a system that has cost an estimated $4 billion since 1978 and executed 13 prisoners.
“We started with six people on death row in 1978, and we never thought that there would one day be 729,” said Briggs, a conservative Republican. “We never conceived of an appellate process that is decades long.” Backing Proposition 34, which would make life without possibility of parole the state’s toughest punishment, the three have joined with retired Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti to try to dismantle a system in which each has played a role. The debate over Proposition 34 has shown that forces once solidly behind capital punishment are now splintered, in part because of the system’s costs and the relatively few executions.