The death penalty was first authorized in California in 1872, in the state’s penal code. Although the state Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court also did so, there was only a five-year hiatus before the state legislature overrode Governor Jerry Brown’s veto and reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty California has executed only 13 inmates. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has the largest death row in the United States, with more than 700 persons awaiting execution. Eighty percent of executions in California have been for those convicted of killing whites, while only 27.6 percent of murder victims are white. Furthermore, those who murder whites are over four times more likely to be sentenced to death in California than those who kill Latinos, and over three times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill African-Americans.
On November 8, 2016, Californians will have the option to vote for Proposition 62, The Justice that Works Initiative. The statute would repeal the death penalty and set life without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment. Uphold the sanctity of life by voting YES on Prop 62. Visit yeson62 for more information.
Californians will also vote on Proposition 66, which would expedite executions in the state. Stop California’s death penalty system from getting any worse by voting NO on Prop 66.
en español: Los católicos y la pena de muerte
Death Penalty Resources
Visit the Death Penalty Information Center Page.