Over the last few weeks, polls were released by several independent organizations that all point to one conclusion: Californians are ready to dump the death penalty.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and the Field Poll both show California voters’ strong preference for life without the possibility of parole over the death penalty.
In the Field Poll [PDF] released September 29, 48% of California voters opted for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole while only 40% chose the death penalty.
And Gallup Polling shows that American support for capital punishment has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years.

Jeanne Woodford, former death row warden and current spokesperson for the SAFE California Campaign, said, “We see [these poll results] as a historic shift that will carry us through to the elections.”
SAFE CA is the new initiative to end California’s death penalty on the November 2012 ballot. It’s about replacing the death penalty with a safe and affordable public safety solution: life without the possibility of parole plus work and restitution.
More Californians chose that over the death penalty because they know it saves $184 million state tax dollars every year. A single execution is exorbitantly expensive -- $308 million – and most Californians can probably think of better ways to spend their money.
For the same cost, we could hire about 6,000 new police officers, or about 5,000 new fire fighters. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that hiring thousands more public employees would make a bigger positive impact on a community than would executing a single individual. And it’s also worth pointing out that for the cost of a single execution, we could provide 2,865 children with a free k-12 education.
Californians care about their communities, and they care about education and public safety. They know that cash-strapped California has to invest its resources wisely, and they know that protecting and educating their families will always bring more bang for their buck than wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on one execution.
These polls show that California is on the verge of a major shift in public priorities. When the SAFE CA Act lands on the ballot in November 2012, voters will have a chance to put their taxpayer money where their mouths are and fund real solutions over empty “tough on crime” rhetoric.
Sign up now to volunteer with the SAFE CA campaign to ensure that our tax dollars are invested in our communities.