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The Death Penalty Will Be on the Ballot In Two States This Year

by Countable | 10.27.16

Voters in two states will be asked to decide whether they should implement the death penalty, one of the most controversial issues in politics, this November. Currently, 30 states allow for the death penalty, but four of them no longer use it under moratoriums imposed by their governors. Twenty states have abolished the death penalty, including five just since 2009.

In California, where the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, voters will be asked on November 8 whether they should ban the practice again. In Nebraska, voters are facing the opposite question: Should they bring back the death penalty after banning it just last year?

In Depth: California

California voters will see two questions on their ballots this November related to the death penalty. Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty in the state and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment for murder. Proposition 66 would instead keep the death penalty in place, but speed up the appeals process. Both would apply to convicts who are already on death row.

Proponents of abolishing the death penalty say that the state spends too much on appeals and would prevent innocent people from being executed by the state. But opponents argue that the death penalty provides justice for victims and their families and prevents state taxpayers from having to foot the bill to house and feed murderers for the rest of their lives.

Read more about the California propositions in our collaboration with CALmatters here.

In Depth: Nebraska

Nebraska’s Referendum 426 would give voters the opportunity to overturn the state legislature’s decision to ban capital punishment last year. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed that bill, but the legislature overturned his veto last May. The referendum will give voters a direct say in the matter.

Proponents say the death penalty is a necessary deterrent to violent crime and that it provides closure to victims and their families. But opponents argue that the ethical cost of potentially executing an innocent person and the financial cost of dealing with appeals is too high.

Read more about the Nebraska proposition here.

Michigan’s death penalty initiative failed

Michigan became the first U.S. state to abolish the death penalty in 1846, but proponents of the practice worked this year to get a referendum on the ballot to allow the death penalty for first degree murder of a police or corrections officer while they’re on duty. That referendum did not make it onto the ballot.

What about the death penalty nationwide?

The death penalty remains legal at the federal level. Congress has considered abolishing the death penalty in the past, as recently as two years ago with the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2013. Any Congressional action on the issue would only affect federal cases, so things like murdering a member of Congress or treason. Should Congress bring the death penalty up for a vote? Let your reps know what you think.

— Eric Revell and Sarah Mimms

Countable

Written by Countable

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(22)
  • Floydian024
    10/27/2016
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    Not only is the death penalty more costly to tax payers than a sentence of life in prison, the appeals process can last for decades—as anyone condemned to death is entitled to automatic appeals—creating additional pain for the family of the victim as they often relive the original trauma each time the condemned is in court on a motion. The most prudent argument against the death penalty, in my opinion, is that our criminal justice system is inherently flawed, as evidenced by the hundreds of innocent men and women already wrongfully convicted and condemned to death row. Recent studies have shown that the scales of justice are unbalanced—poor African-American men are disproportionately the recipients of death sentences. Sadly, there have even been instances of men who were executed and posthumously exonerated. This is a travesty and should NEVER be tolerated in a civil society. This old adage speaks to me: I'd rather allow ten guilty men to go free than have one innocent man die for crimes he did not commit. We, as a society, are defined by the way we treat the most reprehensible of our citizenry. There is much to be said for taking the high road. A murder is a murder, whether it's committed with malice or sanctioned by the state. At the end of the day, an execution solves nothing—it doesn't bring the victim back to life, nor will it deter any future crime. Violence begets more violence. Would-be-murderers don't pause before they commit their crime to think "I should not do this because the state in which I reside allows the death penalty." I think it's safe to say that most murderers don't worry about the possible consequences because they don't plan on getting caught. People who consider the implications of their actions usually don't go through with bad ideas. Abolishing the death penalty would send a strong message to the nation—it would indicate that we are raising our standards to reflect our principles and that we are a nation that will not tolerate murder in any form, with the exception of defending one's life.

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  • Jammy
    10/27/2016
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    Death penalty is too expensive.

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  • Ty
    10/27/2016
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    I think it's a good choice for serious criminals like if they really did something horrible for instance look at the most recent case in Albuquerque. Look up Jessica Kelly

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  • JWesCampbell
    10/27/2016
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    What if they were wrongfully accused?

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  • ashlynbrierre
    10/27/2016
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    No thanks. Too expensive, too many wrong convictions.

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  • Paul
    10/27/2016
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    The death penalty is strictly an act of revenge. For some horrific acts of violence that causes the death or serious harm to others, there are things that are worse than death which could be meted out. One can look at Dante's Purgatorio or Inferno for creative ways to dispense justice which would give the convicted a lifetime to review their actions. Some things could even make them pay society back such as a permanent on-site monitor for the Fukashima reactors.

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  • Robbie
    10/27/2016
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    I think we need. Express line to the death penalty.

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  • Karen
    10/28/2016
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    Absolutely!!!!! If a person takes a life and it is proven with a resin able doubt, inject him or her within but no more than five years later! Appeals must not take years and years to complete. This frees up the system and gives closure to the victims family!!! If the charges could lead to death penalty, these cases should be on the fast track for completion. Five years is more than enough to render a guilty or not guilty verdict. Move on!!!!!!

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  • Genie
    10/28/2016
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    Let's not do this. There are instances where people should be but let's leave that to God. It's a slippery slope when we start killing citizens. It's better to leave vengeance to God and rest better knowing that we have them caged and can't harm anyone else.

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  • Genie
    10/28/2016
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    Let's not do this. There are instances where people should be but let's leave that to God. It's a slippery slope when we start killing citizens. It's better to leave vengeance to God and rest better knowing that we have them caged and can't harm anyone else.

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  • William
    10/28/2016
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    If you take someone's life without just cause, it is only just for your life to be taken in return. It is called the criminal justice system for a reason. However, the death penalty needs to be implemented by a more affordable bureaucratic and appeals process, along with more affordable and ethical means of execution than the expensive drug currently and primarily used for executions (more than $100,000 per injection and often causing elongated and painful death; unconstitutional by our 8th amendment).

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  • Jeannette
    10/29/2016
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    When I was young I was against the death penalty. Now that I'm old and had a friend murdered, in which he turned out to be a serial killer and claimed other lives. I say this get those Son of Bitches off the face of the earth.

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  • Jackson
    10/29/2016
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    The death penalty does not deter murder. It is a waste of money killing criminals that we could easily rehabilitate.

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  • Sherry
    10/30/2016
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    Our court system and lawyers are so corrupt you can't believe them anymore. No death penalty until the government is made honest again.

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  • Randall
    10/31/2016
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    The problem I have is that the death penalty is final, and juries fallible. Convictions are frequently overturned, due to improper actions on the part of police and prosecutors. An Illinois Governer halted all death penalties, because the Chicago prosecutor had been convicting people based on extorted confessions. I have been empaneled on seven felony juries, and hung three of them. They are fraught with error. My experience as a juror, has left me convinced that juries are too fallible to allow them make life and death decisions.

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  • Christopher
    11/02/2016
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    I don't support the death penalty, rather, I believe a person convicted of murder should spend the rest of his life to rot in his cell and life in constant perpetual fear. On the other hand, keeping a person in jail and paying for an execution are both costly so it really is just a moral dilemma for most people. Personally, whether we execute, or give out life sentences, it doesn't matter. Death penalty is the easy way out.

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  • TheRooster618
    11/07/2016
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    I was all for the death penalty until I heard the wardens at Super Max prisons saying that their prisons are worse than the death penalty.

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  • Nikki-in-MI
    05/31/2017
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    This is the 21st century, not the 1800's. The death penalty is an antiquated, expensive and cruel system that does not act as a deterrent. There are innocent men on death row right now that are being denied a retrial or exoneration and that is morally wrong. Nobody has the right to kill, including the States that continue to use his disgraceful form of punishment. Killing one innocent man is an outrage, right now there could be many more waiting to be executed. When their innocence is realized after execution it's too late. Don't kill another innocent man because the legal system is failing them. The USA needs to take a look at the rest of the developed world where they will see the the death penalty has been largely outlawed. Stop this barbaric practice now.

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  • Rachel
    10/30/2016
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    I 100% am in favor of the death penalty.

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  • Lille
    10/28/2016
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    The death penalty is an outdated and horrible punishment that is not only cruel and unusual for those in death row, but is expensive and can go horribly wrong. If you go to http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty it will show you how expensive death penalty cases are in each state. It is outrageous. It states "Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population. There are 714 inmates on California's death row." The death penalty also is heavily influenced by discrimination, and people from lower income situations receive the death penalty more than those of a higher income situation. There are also several times when people have been executed and then the courts have seen that new evidence would prove innocence. The death penalty should not be around. Nationwide.

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