Senator wants death penalty abolished

June 27, 2011 1:35:38 PM PDT
State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, is introducing legislation today that would replace the death penalty in California with permanent imprisonment.

Hancock said in an interview that the state's budget problems are part of the reason she wants to abolish the death penalty, and that she thinks the state can free up money for health and human services programs and other needs by ending capital punishment.

She said her view is bolstered by a report in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review this week that states that the cost of maintaining the current total of 714 death row inmates is $184 million a year.

The report was written by U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, a former prosecutor, and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell.

Hancock, who is chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, which oversees funding for the prison system, said her bill is expected to have its first hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on July 5.

She said she hopes the state Legislature will approve it later this year or early next year, and that it can appear on the November 2012 ballot.

Hancock said the death penalty is not effective in preventing violence.

"The death penalty is not deterring crime, because generally it is sociopaths and mentally ill people who are committing murders and they aren't making calculated decisions about their actions," she said.


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