SACRAMENTO (KCBS/AP) – A bill that would abolish the death penalty in California has advanced after its first legislative hearing.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 5-2 on Thursday in favor of SB490, a bill introduced by state Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley.

The bill is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Hancock said that since the death penalty was re-instituted in 1978, taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on its legal expenses, but only 13 of more than 700 prisoners on death row have been executed.

“If we did that simple, sure punishment, we would save the state of California $184 million a year,” she said. “That’s money that could go to our education system, courts and public safety.”

But opponents like Harriet Salarno, who heads Crime Victims United of California, said it’s unfair to the families who have waited decades for justice.

“This is so unfair to those families of victims who have gone through the court system,” Salarno said. “These people are just going to be fed up again. What do you want to put them through, more torture?”

California has the nation’s largest death row, with 714 inmates.

If the bill is signed into law, it would be put before voters in 2012.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (16)
  1. Mouse says:

    This is hypocrisy to the highest level!
    Hardened criminals will be spared while innocent unborn babies are murdered daily because someone made a “choice” that they should die.

    1. Mouse says:

      I’m an atheist. This has nothing to do with religion. I just think that killing little humans who did not do anything to anyone is wrong, whether you are or are not a religious nut.

    2. amy mercurio says:!/groups/241311135897395
      Please see this site for both sides of the issue.

  2. done says:

    People need to stop using “terrible homes” and “bad parents” as a an excuse. Many inmates come from good homes. As adults people make choices. Sometimes the choices are the wrong ones. As adults, we know the difference between right and wrong. If we make the wrong choice, we need to be ready to accept the consequences.

  3. Bob Theduck says:

    The voters in the state decided to have the death penality. How about we replace the judges that tie up carring this out? Endless appeals and delays are what drives up the cost here. A person on death row stands a better chance of dieing from old age than getting a needle.

  4. Troy Stoeffler says:

    If they decide to take another human beings life they deserve to pay the price…We waste too much tax payer money letting these criminals sit on death row for years and years they should only be allowed to be housed for 6 months maximum before they are put down !

    1. amy mercurio says:

      I couldn’t agree more!

  5. government ain't smart enough says:

    I don’t think government is generally smart enough to be tasked with the ultimate decision – to kill a citizen. I’ll let my vote tell them when to imprison people, but I think I’ll hold back permission to set rules on who lives and who dies.

  6. TARA says:

    Letting reduced punishment for the criminals is not a solution. Why to waste billions of dollars behind the death sentence. The special court bench should be set up to deal with such cases and the deadline of 6 months should be set up within which the final judgement should be delivered. And if the bill is passed for costs then its wrong cause long term costs of sustaining them in prisons and securing them will be higher. saving from harder sentence means the criminals in future will take it easy to commit a crime. Even if government is determined to legislate on this issue, there should be provision for barring this previlge for hard core criminals, terrorists and traitors to Nation.

  7. jim says:


  8. Paul Dsu says:

    Those murder and hardcore criminal should be release to people who try to pass this bill and let see their family get murder. The best thing can happen for those criminal is get disease and die. We need to bring back the firing squad and waste time with lethal injection bs.

  9. John Randall says:


  10. Oh Pooh! says:

    it would save $4billion that go to public schools and other programs. Really? How many times has eliminating a program or state law that carries tax dollars has been funneled into the school system or other infrastructure account? Has this stupid person done the math? And to the fool equating this to abortion …. So, if your body decides to terminate a pregnancy on its own – miscarriage – is your body committing murder?

  11. Cain2 says:

    To the person who said they come from bad homes……….you speak of something you have no knowledge of.. Have you lived in these people homes? Most o fus have children or a loved one who will do whatever they want to do. The truth is if we would start in the white house and work our way down everyone knows someone who has done something criminal. Maybe it wasn’t capital murder or the likes. How bout we lock up some of these theiving judges, lawyers, doctors, preachers, teachers, blue collar workers. People are doing everything just haven’t got caught yet or have paid their way out. What about the secret child molesters pedophiles, rapists, physical abusers. we just need to not be so nasty to each other….it really doesn’t take all of that to get your point across. Let’s be real anyone is capable of having a lapse in judgement. As for the death penalty if it is meant to be It will regardless to what you or I think, say or feel,

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