In an ongoing shift in public opinion about the death penalty in California, the number of voters who favor doing away with capital punishment has grown to virtually the same size as those seeking to speed up the execution process, says a new Field Poll reported by the Sacramento Bee. State officials continue to grapple with legal challenges that have long stalled executions in the state. When asked what the state should do in response, 48 percent of registered voters said California should take steps to speed up the process. Forty-seven percent of registered voters said the state should do away with the death penalty and replace it with life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The result reflects a shift since 2014, when Californians favored speeding the execution process by a 52 percent-to-40 percent margin. “It's certainly closer than it was when we first polled on it,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. “Voters seem to be moving toward the option of life in prison without the possibility of the parole, more than they have in the past.” He said California voters hold a more favorable opinion of the death penalty when asked about it in general terms, without considering “all the delays, all the caveats.” “But that's not what we're asking here,” he said. “I think most voters would probably remain supportive of the death penalty, but in its implementation, it doesn't seem to work.” Voters in 2012 rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty by a 52 percent-to-48 percent margin. Opponents of capital punishment are working to put another repeal measure on the ballot, while supporters have proposed a measure to reduce the waiting time before executions are carried out.