Three former California governors are set to announce their endorsement Thursday of a proposed initiative sponsors say would end lengthy death penalty appeals and speed up executions, reports the Los Angeles Times. Former governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis were expected to announce at a news conference the launch of an initiative drive for signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the November ballot.
The measure, if qualified, would ignite the second statewide debate on the death penalty in two years. A ballot proposal that would have ended capital punishment in California narrowly lost in 2012, with 48 percent of voters in favor and 52 percent against. The new proposal would establish five-year court deadlines for deciding death row appeals, transfer most death penalty cases from the California Supreme Court to lower courts, and allow capital inmates to be spread among the general prison population. California has more than 700 people on death row, and the last inmate was executed in 2006.