On November 8th, U.S. citizens will have the opportunity to vote in arguably the most critical election in American history. Regardless of the outcome, the 2016 election will be regarded by generations to come as one of the most controversial and extreme elections seen in the U.S. Seriously this rivalry can challenge the late 1700s dispute between Hamilton and Jefferson. (If it doesn’t ring a bell read up on a bit of American history.)
Yet, even with so much happening at the national level, very serious changes are potentially coming to the state of California. This year over 15 different ballots are up for debate; one that isn’t getting much attention though is Prop 62- repealing the death penalty.
For a state that seems pretty liberal in many other aspects (abortion, LGBTQ rights, Venice Beach), California still upholds the death penalty as a legitimate punishment for crimes that can be substituted for life in prison without parole. Proponents of Prop 62 claim that repealing the death penalty will save $150 million dollars per year.
In his memoir, Bryan Stevenson speaks about his time working for a non-profit legal defense group that helps individuals on death row be acquitted or at least have their sentences reduced to life in prison. On separate occasions, Stevenson found cases that had been tainted through racial bias, misuse of evidence, manipulation of key witnesses to reach a confession, and disregard of mental illness. A lot of his clients were poor, uneducated, suffering from mental illnesses and disabilities, and almost always people of color.
People of color, and people living in poverty, aren’t more likely to commit crimes, they’re just more likely to be punished for them.
While it’s important to form your own opinion on the propositions on this year’s ballot, it’s also important to understand the implications on voting no on Prop 62.
- You’d be saying people have the authority to condemn someone to die even though killing someone is punishable by law.
- You’d be allowing California to continue to spend money on a costly process that can take decades to complete.
- You’d be saying that you’re comfortable with the fact that innocent people can be condemned to die.
Having Prop 62 on the ballot is a monumental move that I wish I would’ve been a part of. I urge everyone to vote on this year’s upcoming election and while I can’t control the decisions of others, I will be exercising my right on November 8th and vote yes on Prop 62.