Prop. 66 caps death penalty appeals at five years. So then what happens?

death-penalty_2391137bNext week, voters will consider not one but two measures involving the death penalty — one speeds up the process while the other would stop it entirely. 

If approved, Prop. 62 would repeal the death penalty and commute the condemned sentences to life without parole. On the other hand, Prop. 66 would speed up the process by expanding the number of courts and attorneys able to hear and try death penalty appeals to meet a five-year cap on the appeals process that currently takes decades. (If both measures pass, the highest vote-getter would become law.)

But failure to meet the five-year time frame would not commute the sentence or throw out the appeal, according to the proposed language. So what happens at the five-year mark?

“If the process takes more than five years, victims or their attorneys could request a court order to address the delay,” said Drew Soderborg, managing principal analyst with the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. “Because it is unknown how often this would happen or how courts would rule on such a requests, it is difficult to know what the effect would be.”

A court order could pump a sense of urgency into whichever party or court is holding up the process — the violation of which could be punishable in some instances.  

Is the system broken?

Proponents of both measures agree that the current system is broken. The appeals process takes decades at a tremendous cost to the state ($55 million annually), which has to prosecute as well as defend in many instances.

Because of legal complications with the lethal injection process, the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006. In fact, only 15 inmates have been executed since 1978, while 100 have died while waiting, according to an LAO analysis of the measure.  

Currently, there are around 750 inmates on Death Row. Some supporters of a total repeal of the death penalty argue it’s a cruel and unusual punishment, while others point to exonerations, which, while not entirely common, happen frequently enough to worry critics about executing innocent people. Since 1973, 156 people have been exonerated nationwide, including three in California, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Prop. 66 would reform the system in an entirely different way — by speeding it up. The measure would increase the pool of eligible attorneys qualified to represent condemned inmates by forcing them to do it. Many who are qualified don’t like to represent death penalty appeals because of inadequate state funding and the major time commitment. 

The number of courts in which cases could be heard would be increased under Prop. 66 by sending one type of appeal (habeas corpus petitions) back to the initial court to see if any error had been made. As of April, there were 360 Death Row inmates waiting for habeas corpus petitions. 

Critics say Prop. 66’s five-year cap is arbitrary. But proponents say it’s enough time in most instances. 

“Prop. 66 limits state appeals to 5 years instead of allowing  convicted criminals to file appeal after appeal after appeal,” said Bill Bradley, a spokesman for Prop. 66. “However, the initiative does not impose a rigid deadline that must be met in every case as extraordinary cases may take longer. With that said, five years is generally sufficient to get through state appeals, even in the most complex cases.”


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  1. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 4 November, 2016, 15:32

    Time to end the appeals process or limited it to one and with ina year of conviction

    Reply this comment
    • Ted America
      Ted America 8 November, 2016, 14:29

      Bwahahaha yes Plover, that’s probably Constitutional and not arbitrary! LMAO Trumpaloopa tea baggy nonsense… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      Reply this comment
  2. Mike
    Mike 4 November, 2016, 18:30

    I want a proposition that anyone convicted of a sex crime with a minor is beheaded after losing the first appeal….upon leaving the courtroom. Males can choose castration and bleeding to death.What is wrong with these common sense proposals? Yo, Lara….

    Reply this comment
    • Ghettoman
      Ghettoman 5 November, 2016, 11:52

      Mike, nice job! Too bad it will never happen in our lifetime! Now you can rape and murder a child, go to prison with no fear of being killed for your crime, get 3 good meals a day, health coverage for life, lift weights, get a college degree, have all the sex you want, change your sex if u want, get married to outside weirdos, write letters to anyone you want, taunt your victims families, sue the state if u want, be pardoned by Obama, and have a poster of Hillary on your wall for fantasy night! Where do I sign up?

      Reply this comment
  3. JPR11
    JPR11 5 November, 2016, 17:36

    All the current system does is enrich attorneys. If your convicted of a horrific crime and sentenced to death then a 5 year review period is adequate. I assume the Night Stalker is still in SQ even though he killed 8 or more. Agree the system needs an overhaul but the punishment needs to b3e given.

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 6 November, 2016, 07:57

    Thats to govenor Moonbeam american tax payers have o foot the bill for Charles Manson and hi vile band of followers but one day Manson will have his appointed day with the grime reaper and have to stand before god for the judgement and be perhaps cast into the lake of fire

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 6 November, 2016, 09:23

      That’s your way of participating in a reasonable discussion!! Just blame Governor Brown–he is responsible for everything–in your narrow little world.

      I admit that I have to look things up to be sure I know what I am talking about. I see in Wikipedia that when the CA Supreme Ct. overturned capital punishment in 1972, the Gov. of CA at the time was Reagan. Of course its typical of people like you to blame everything on Governor Brown–who happens to have been a great governor (choke on that if you will). Manson and his followers were all incarcerated when Jerry Brown took office. The voters of CA reinstated capital punishment in the 1976-1977 election.

      Reply this comment
      • Cubs Fan
        Cubs Fan 7 November, 2016, 10:48

        Of course its typical of people like you to blame everything on Governor Regan–who happens to have been a great governor (choke on that if you will). Need I remind you that the Governor does not make the laws. The California Legislature has ALWAYS been dominated by Democrats (incidentally, that’s why California is so screwed up). Some ding bat Democrat in the California Legislature sponsored the bill and the Democrat controlled Legislature passed the bill. Blame the correct people. Even Governor Brown is not responsible for all the crap coming from our Legislature.

        Reply this comment
        • SeeSaw
          SeeSaw 8 November, 2016, 16:16

          I was responding to SP who is blaming Governor Brown for Manson escaping the death penalty–when Brown was not even in office at the time–Reagan was. So if a Governor is to blame at the time of a happening, it was Reagan. Just choke on that! (I try to find sources to back up what I say–a trait typical of “people like me”.)

          Reply this comment
  5. Desmond
    Desmond 6 November, 2016, 17:58

    Checking in. Nice to see(not really) Cal is more messed up than ever, and the leeches(govt retirees and the assorted special interests) will gladly go down with the ship. I will return to Cal when the corrupt Brown is frying in hell, just to piss on his grave.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 6 November, 2016, 21:55

      Well sorry you are still so decadent as a human being. Be careful what you say–it will come back to haunt you. (I hope your wife and children are safe.)

      Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 8 November, 2016, 13:06


      You get back here right now!

      Who else is going to pay Sawhorses pension!

      Reply this comment
  6. Desmond
    Desmond 7 November, 2016, 19:47

    Not married. Hopefully, my current girlfriend thinks I am decadent, like a dessert you cannot resist…..

    Reply this comment

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