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California voters will have the chance to abolish the death penalty in the Golden State this November.
The Associated Press reports that opponents of capital punishment gathered enough signatures to place their initiative on the ballot this fall, state officials confirmed Monday.
The measure would convert the sentences of the 725 California inmates currently on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a sentence that would also become the maximum allowable under state law.
If the ballot initiative garners enough votes in November, California would become the 18th state without a death penalty. Over the last half-decade, four states have ended capital punishment and a fifth, Connecticut, is expected to soon follow suit.
While opponents of the death penalty have long based their case on moral grounds, the Los Angeles Times explains that some backers of California's ballot initiative are now making their argument on financial grounds:
"A three-year study by a judge and a law professor concluded last year that the death penalty in California costs $183 million more to administer than life without possibility of parole, and that California's 13 executions cost taxpayers $4 billion. The additional expense includes legal costs for expanded trials and appeals and for housing inmates in single cells."
Capital punishment advocates, however, say those numbers are inflated. They also point to California voter's recent history of supporting the death penalty and harsher prison sentences.