Published   September 23, 2011

New Poll Shows Californians Prefer Life without Parole over the Death Penalty

54% According to Public Policy Institute of California

Sacramento – A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows 54% of Californians prefer life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, with only 39% preferring the death penalty.

The PPIC report shows a clear preference for life in prison with no chance of parole for all adults across the state. Support was strongest among residents of Los Angeles (62%) and Latinos (67%), California residents under 35 and those earning less than $40,000.

“These new numbers confirm what we already know to be true: across the state and across party lines, California voters are ready to replace our dysfunctional death penalty with life in prison without parole,” said Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin and spokesperson for the SAFE California campaign. “Voters express even greater support for striking the death penalty when they have the option to choose life without parole with work and restitution to families through our victim compensation fund.”

PPIC’s most recent findings are in line with other polling data on the death penalty in California and nationwide:

  • A 2011 statewide survey of likely voters conducted by David Binder Research showed 63% of likely voters support converting all current death row sentences to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole in order to save the state $1 billion dollars in five years, where the money saved would be used for public education and law enforcement. The idea was supported by voters from all political parties and from across all regions of the state.
  • A 2010 national survey of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners revealed that a clear majority of voters nationwide (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty if it were available.
  • A 2009 poll of eligible California voters conducted by Professor Craig Haney from the University of California Santa Cruz found that 66% prefer life without parole with work and restitution, over the death penalty.

“This week’s protests and vigils against the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia are a vivid reminder that the death penalty will always risk the execution of innocent people,” added Woodford. “More and more the public is realizing that the only way to protect the innocent is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

“California is no different. California’s death penalty brings with it enormous costs, it saps money from the investigation of open rape and murder cases, and here too it brings the risk of executing an innocent person. That’s why we are confident that voters will replace it with life imprisonment, if given the chance to vote on the issue – 33 years and $4 billion dollars later,” Woodford said.

The SAFE California campaign will start gathering signatures in October to put before the voters at the November 2012 election an initiative to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole with work and restitution. The campaign is supported by a coalition of law enforcement leaders, murder victim family members, exonerees and advocates.

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Taxpayers for Justice, a group of law enforcement professionals, crime victim advocates, and individuals exonerated from wrongful conviction, launched the SAFE California Campaign, to put before the voters on November 6, 2012 an initiative that will replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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