Proposition 34, a November ballot measure that would abolish the death penalty in California, faces long odds, says the San Jose Mercury News. But it has a major advantage over the opposing campaign — wealthy donors, from Silicon Valley executives to Hollywood actors, willing to write fat checks. With less than two months to go before the election, Proposition 34’s campaign has amassed more than $5.4 million to persuade California voters to get rid of capital punishment, dwarfing the $208,000 gathered by a pro-death-penalty coalition of law enforcement and victims’ rights groups.
From Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to actor Ed Asner and rocker Jackson Browne, the Proposition 34 campaign has a glittering roster of the rich and famous putting money behind the first vote on whether to retain the death penalty in California since it was reinstated in 1978. If approved, Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole and clear the state’s death row, which now exceeds 720 condemned killers. The measure’s supporters say the death penalty system is too flawed, slow and expensive to retain, while opponents insist the cost concerns are exaggerated and that California should keep the ultimate punishment for heinous murderers.