During the week of 23 April, the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) visited the USA, to lend its support to those campaigning for abolition of the death penalty in California.
Since restoring the death penalty in 1978 California has executed 13 prisoners but executions were halted in 2006 when a District Judge found flaws in the execution process. California hosts the largest death row in the USA with more than 720 condemned prisoners.
In California the law on the death penalty can only be changed by a direct vote of the electorate. The SAFE California Act (Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement) will be on the ballot on the 6 November 2012. If successful, capital punishment will be replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Money saved by repeal of the death penalty would be redirected to law enforcement and solving serious crimes – in California 46% of murders are unsolved. During the mission, the ICDP delegation met with senior state officials and lawyers involved in capital cases, participated in two public forums Law Enforcement and the Death Penalty, Death Penalty and the Latino Communities of California as well as visiting San Quentin State Prison.
In 2011 there were 43 executions in the USA but the number of executions and death sentences is decreasing.
In the past 5 years Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York have all abolished the death penalty and the state of Oregon has introduced a moratorium on executions.
Repeal of the death penalty in California will provide important leadership not only to other US states but also internationally to countries moving towards abolition.
Worldwide more than 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
ICDP hopes that on 6 November the people of California will vote to abandon the death penalty and choose to join the international community of states that no longer resort to executions.
For further information on the campaign, go to http://www.safecalifornia.org
Message from the President of The International Commission against the Death Penalty on the visit to California.