SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — New numbers show the push to end the death penalty in California is facing an uphill fight.
Our exclusive KPIX 5 SurveyUSA poll shows that 52 percent of statewide voters are opposed to Proposition 62, that’s compared to 36 percent who favor replacing the death penalty with life in prison. Perhaps even more surprising is that the death penalty still has plenty of bay area support.
Once again the death penalty is on the California ballot. Voters considered whether to abolish it in 1972 and again in 2012. Both times, the death penalty survived.
For a state known for its lefty politics, where Democrats hold every statewide office, Californians have a history of supporting the death penalty when it is on the ballot.
It’s easy to forget that Democrats in California are not a majority, Independents are.
Carson Bruno, a research fellow at the Hoover Institute, said, “California is definitely a blue state there’s no doubt about that, but we’re not a uniformly progressive blue state up and down the state.”
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, “When you get into the valley, into Southern California, you realize, the Bay Area’s attitude does not cover the whole state in this issue.”
Even right here in the Bay Area, the poll showed 47 percent of likely voters are in favor of keeping the death penalty. Only 42 percent oppose it.
Wagstaffe is opposed to Prop 62. He wants to keep the death penalty. He says his Bay Area constituents want the death penalty to be used sparingly.
“I think they appreciate that we’re very, very cautious and limited in our use of this most significant of all punishments in our criminal justice system,” Wagstaffe said.
Law Professor Ellen Kreitzberg is in favor of Prop 62. She she’s confident that the death penalty will be repealed.
Kreitzberg, law professor and director of the Death Penalty College at Santa Clara University School of Law said, “California voters know that the death penalty is arbitrary and unreliable and dysfunctional system…When the people of California review that, they’re going to vote yes on 62 to abolish it.”
Kreitzberg says the poll is flawed because it doesn’t line up with other polls showing decreased support for the death penalty.
While there are those who think the death penalty it is immoral there are also those who think the system isn’t working. On this November’s ballot there is also a measure – Prop 66 – which would make changes to the death penalty system. Having that reform option on the ballot may explain why fewer people support repealing the death penalty.