California to Vote on Death Penalty
Repeal measure makes it onto November ballot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2012 2:37 AM CDT
Updated Apr 24, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
This execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison will be history if the measure passes this November.   (AP Photo/California Department of Corrections)

(Newser) – Voters in California, home to nearly a quarter of America's death row inmates, will decide on abolishing the death penalty this November. A ballot measure on repealing the death penalty has received the necessary 500,000 signatures, reports the Los Angeles Times. The measure would make life imprisonment without the possibility of parole the state's harshest punishment and return most death row inmates to general prison populations, where they would be expected to work, with their earnings going to crime victims.

The 725 inmates currently on death row in California are much likelier to die of old age than by lethal injection: The state has only carried out 13 executions since 1976, and none since 2006. Repeal advocates say killing off the death penalty would save the state $100 million a year. "Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake," says former San Quentin warden Jeanne Woodford, the official proposer of the ballot measure. Four states have abolished the death penalty since 2007, and Connecticut will probably be next.