California voters could vote for two diametrically opposed death penalty measures on next Tuesday’s ballots. If they choose both, one might just pass. If both pass, the one with the most votes would become law. Either of them passing would be a lot better than if neither did, writes columnist George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times. One would end California’s broken death penalty. The other would mend it, or try to. The worst thing would be if neither proposal passed, Skelton says, explaining that “California would remain stuck with a dysfunctional capital punishment system that gobbles tons of tax dollars while coddling the worst murderers.”
Proposition 62 would abolish California’s phantom death penalty and replace it with a realistic sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Proposition 66 would expedite executions by limiting the number of appeals and the time allowed for them. More lawyers would be hired to handle the appeals. Both sides agree on one thing: This state’s death penalty system is broken. “The promise of death is illusionary,” says former U.S. Attorney Don Heller, who wrote California’s capital punishment law 38 years ago and later turned against it, concluding it’s too costly and is administered unfairly.