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California remains on death row

Yesterday amongst the voting for a new president, Senate seats and the House of Representatives, Californians had an opportunity to remove the death penalty from the state’s statute books.

There are over 700 death row inmates In California, costing the state around $130m a year through higher security, the appeals process and more expensive prosecution. And cases can be fraught with doubt - 141 people have been released from death rows around the USA since 1976.

But despite this and a growing trend in the US and globally away from the death penalty, Californians narrowly voted yesterday to keep the death penalty, by 53% to 47%.

Although this means the death penalty remains for now in California, the result is still a massive step towards abolition in the state, and across the US. In 1978, Californians voted overwhelmingly, by 71%, to reintroduce this most final of punishments. The drop in support is a trend we’re seeing across the US, where national polls show support for the death penalty at its lowest in 39 years. Five states have abolished the death penalty in the last five years.

And although this keeps the death penalty on the books, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing an execution any time soon. California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, and legal challenges continue around the use of lethal injection as an execution method.

Meanwhile, support for the death penalty will keep reducing across America, and it’s likely that other states will add their names to the ‘abolitionist’ column soon. We’ll have to wait before California follows suit, but it’s inevitable that it will.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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