A California measure that aims to expedite long-delayed executions in the state has passed, the Sacramento Bee reports. The Associated Press last night projected victory for Proposition 66, which implements strict timelines for inmate appeals to death sentences and removes an administrative barrier to resuming executions. The measure led by more than 250,000 votes, or 51 percent to 49 percent, after two weeks of counting millions of late-arriving mail and provisional ballots. “Voters want to ensure that victims’ families receive the justice they want and deserve,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. “It’s time for our opponents and the Legislature to work with us to ensure the death penalty process works as intended.”
A rival initiative, Proposition 62, which sought to abolish the death penalty nearly four decades after it returned to California, was soundly defeated on Nov. 8. A fierce campaign over the dueling death penalty measures saw both sides denounce the current system as broken and wasteful, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent to house nearly 750 inmates on death row. Only 13 have ever been executed. Law enforcement, including a late TV campaign by the correctional officers union, urged voters to keep capital punishment for the worst of the worst murderers. Proposition 66 will allow prison officials to move some condemned inmates out of expensive, high-security cells and require the state to hire hundreds more lawyers to provide prompt representation for inmates whose appeals drag on for decades.