The California campaign to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole launched radio and television advertisements yesterday, calling capital punishment a futile exercise that costs taxpayers and coddles criminals, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Proposition 34 campaign is spending more than $2 million on ads that will air in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Polls suggest the measure has been struggling but gaining ground.
“Do you know we have the death penalty in California?” actor Edward James Olmos asks in a radio spot for Proposition 34. “You might not, because we almost never use it.” The ads emphasize how few inmates are executed — 13 since 1978 — and suggest the money would be better used for schools and crime fighting. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state could save as much as $130 million a year if the death penalty is abolished. Proposition 34 would commute the death sentences of the more than 725 condemned inmates to life with no possibility of parole. The inmates would be put into the general prison population in double cells and be expected to work and pay into victim restitution funds, sponsors say.