Vote Yes on Proposition 34: Death Penalty

This is the fifth part of a series of posts analyzing California’s propositions:

The Death Penalty

Proposition 34 is fairly simple: it repeals the death penalty.

More below.

This is one of those simple propositions. It’s easily understandable, and (unlike some propositions out there) nobody is trying to trick Californians. The average voter can easily understand what this proposition does.

It’s also why this blog is not going to spend a lot of time on this proposition. The death penalty is something that most people have already made their minds about. It’s either morally right or morally wrong. Nobody reading this is going to change their mind about the death penalty.

The Financial Implications

It’s with respect to the fiscal impact that there is something to be said about Proposition 34.

Let’s start with the bad news. Proposition 34 adds a total of one hundred million in grants to local law enforcement agencies. It does this mainly to attract votes.

This is the type of terrible policy which the proposition system is famous for. One hundred million in spending by Proposition 34, ten billion in spending by a proposition here, five billion in tax cuts by a proposition there – it’s no wonder California has trouble balancing its budget. Ballot-box budgeting like this is disgraceful.

But the good news is that Proposition 34 does save the state a lot of money, if approved. California requires decades of appeals before a person convicted of the death penalty is actually killed. The purpose of this is to make it so that the state actually never executes anybody. Unfortunately, this is expensive; all the appeals cost more than a hundred million per year. Proposition 34 will save that money. And with California’s current financial difficulties, that’s quite helpful.


So this blog endorses Proposition 34 because it saves the state money, despite the proposition’s thick-headed spending grant.

A side note: In making this recommendation, there is no ulterior motive here. With respect to whether the death penalty is morally correct or not, I really have no opinion and don’t know the answer. It’s not an issue that arouses my passion, although it’s understandable that many people are very passionate about this issue. This recommendation is made purely on the fiscal implications of Proposition 34.