If Proposition 34 passed, such prisoners would be given less legal assistance than they have now. Many would rather gamble on being executed.
Police and death row inmates agree on one thing, a law enforcement group told its members: They both oppose next week's ballot measure to replace the death penalty with life without parole.
That statement, in a newsletter from the Los Angeles Police Protective League opposing Proposition 34, highlighted what some California criminal defense lawyers have been saying for months.
Many death row inmates who are years away from execution would rather gamble on being executed than lose their state-paid lawyers, a preference that seems to be confirmed by a limited, informal survey of some on California's death row.
"That is a significant sentiment, since the death penalty in California is mostly life without parole anyway," said Don Specter, director of California's Prison Law Office, who personally supports the initiative. "So the chances of them getting executed are not that high, and if Prop. 34 passes, their cases will be treated differently."
California has not executed an inmate in six years and has put to death only 13 offenders since 1978. If Proposition 34 passes, death row inmates will be merged into the general prison population and have their sentences commuted to life without parole. Read More