Levine Leads Effort to End California Death Penalty

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- Marin County) today led a statewide coalition of lawmakers in announcing the introduction of Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 2, to abolish California’s death penalty. As introduced, ACA 2 would end California’s failed death penalty in 2024 by prohibiting a criminal sentence of death and require the re-sentencing of existing death penalty cases.


California’s Death Row is the largest in the United States with 724 condemned prisoners. Since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978, California has executed only thirteen individuals, costing taxpayers over $5 billion, nearly 18 times the cost of imprisoning a convicted person for life. African Americans and Latinos represent 67% of California’s Death Row population, leading criminal justice reform advocates to question whether race has been improperly factored into death penalty sentences. Along with DNA evidence that has proven the innocence of 150 Death Row inmates across the nation, there is growing consensus that the death penalty has failed to achieve its stated public safety goals and should be abolished.


In March 2019, Governor Newsom announced a moratorium on the death penalty and ordered San Quentin State Prison’s death chamber closed. In spite of this moratorium, the COVID-19 pandemic hit California’s death row particularly hard. Between March and December of this year, thirteen incarcerated people on death row died of COVID-19 – the same number of people that had been legally executed by the State of California since 1978. These numbers have shown further evidence of the need to end this already broken system of justice.


“California’s death penalty is a failed relic of a failed criminal justice system,” said Assemblymember Levine. “The death penalty does not deter serious crime, has been overly applied to minorities and has proven to be an expensive and flawed exercise in justice. I am proud to stand with many of my legislative colleagues in calling for an end to the cruel, inhumane and ineffective death penalty. It is time for California to join a growing number of states and bring an end to the fatally flawed death penalty once and for all.”


“Unfortunately, Governor Newsom’s moratorium on state sanctioned executions has not stopped the death of condemned inmates in California,” continued Assemblymember Levine. “The death penalty is broken beyond repair. Now is the time for the Legislature and the voters of the state to end the failed death penalty once and for all by supporting ACA 2. This is a conversation that must include all Californians.”


Nineteen states have abolished the death penalty across the nation.


If approved by a 2/3 vote of the Legislature, ACA 2 would require voter approval and appear on the November 2024 ballot. ACA 2 will be considered by the California State Assembly in Spring 2021.


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