Should heinous murderers be put to death or allowed to live the rest of their lives in prison. That's a question Californians will answer when they go to the polls on November 6th.
With Proposition 34, Californians will decided the future of the death penalty. If passed, all people currently on death row would have their sentences reduced to life in prison, and death would no longer be an option for prosecutors.
North State law makers and law enforcers made their case Tuesday afternoon against proposition 34.
“Some crimes are so egregious, so horrendous, so offensive to societies values and mores that the death penalty is a just sentence,” said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen.
The "No on 34” campaign highlights California’s worst offenders to make a point.
“Darryl Keith Rich murdered 4 women, raped 5 more between Tehama and Shasta counties, his last victim was 11 years old girl,” said Nielsen.
Rich, who was known as the "Hilltop Rapist", was executed in 2000.
“California’s prosecutors exercise great discretion, less than 2% of the murderers in California are on death row,” said McGregor Scott, Co-Chair of the No on Prop 34 campaign.
There are over 725 people on death row in California, and only 13 have been executed since the penalty was legalized in 1976
“The system is not working, more people are dying of old age than they are of being executed,” said Sue Morehouse, a Redding activist against the death penalty,” I just think that we are wasting money, wasting lives, and we have the possibility of putting innocent people to death.
The cost of capital punishment is one of the biggest issues facing voters.
“If we end the death penalty, we will then spend tax payers dollars to house and provide medical care for the worst of the worst criminals till the day they die,” said Scott.
“We are keeping people in expensive death row prison cells that cost 100 thousand extra for each prisoner every year,” said Morehouse.
Deputy DA Josh Lowery says no death penalty actually means higher court costs because there will be less plea bargains and more cases.
“The death penalty can me an important factor in convincing killers to plead guilty in exchange for life sentences,” said Lowery.
The death penalty was legalized by California voters in 1978 with Proposition 7, but executions have been on hold in California for the last 6 years due to possible flaws in the execution process.