SACRAMENTO - California's 33-year-old death penalty law could be on the way out. State elections officials are expected to announce later this afternoon that an initiative to repeal the 1978 law has qualified for the November statewide ballot.
Supporters gathered almost 800,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot. They argue that in the three decades since voters first enacted capital punishment, the costs have skyrocketed while only 13 prisoners have actually been executed.
The last execution was in January 2006. Since then, federal courts have blocked the state's protocol of lethal injection as unconstitutional.
A 2011 study concluded the capital punishment system has cost California taxpayers some $4 billion since its enactment in 1978.
The November ballot measure, if approved by a majority of voters, would make all current and future capital crimes punishable by life in prison without parole. Inmates would also be required to work in prison to help pay restitution to the families of victims. The initiative would also send $30 million for three years to local law enforcement agencies to help solve open murder and rape cases.