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California voters to consider ending capital punishment

California voters will decide whether to abolish the death penalty this November, the Silicon Valley Mercury News reported. A group in favor of doing away with the nation’s largest death row gathered more than 800,000 signatures –- enough to put capital punishment on the ballot.

Death would be replaced with life in prison without possibility of parole, according to the Mercury News. Inmates currently on death row would live out life in prison instead.

"It's a proposition whose time has come," measure proponent Jeanne Woodford, a former San Quentin State Prison warden, told reporters Monday morning, according to the Mercury News.

Abolishing the death penalty could save California tens of millions of dollars, which could be redirected to solving rape and murder cases, Woodford said. Woodford, who oversaw four executions as warden, now heads Death Penalty Focus, which opposes the death penalty.  

The measure is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and some law enforcement and victims rights groups, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978. Since then, 13 people have been executed, according to Death Penalty Focus. The Los Angeles Times reported that $4 billion has been spent to administer capital punishment –- about $308 million per execution.

California has been moving in this direction for several years. In 2006, a U.S. District Court judge halted all executions out of concern that they resulted in unnecessary pain, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In December, a Superior Court judge rejected the state’s new lethal injection protocols because officials hadn’t considered a one-drug method used in other states.

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