This is a guest post on by someone with a close personal connection to the death penalty. Read Deldep Medina‘s powerful words and reflect before you decide how to vote on this ballot initiative. There’s more information here. For someone waiting on your answer, it’s literally life or death.


As a mother this election I am more popular than ever. So many ads are targeted at me, trying to get my attention. For good reason – as women we control 80% of all purchases made in this country and as moms we are the most reliable of voters.

I too have been reaching out to other California mothers to educate them on an important proposition. It addresses both a personal significance and a policy concern. Proposition asks California voters to replace the death penalty with life without a possibility of parole. By voting Yes on 34 we will improve safety in our communities while also decreasing our costs.

Believe it or not the death penalty costs our state an extra $130 million/year (according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office), while we have a 46% unsolved murder rate, and 56% of reported rapes are also unsolved. Yet we have already spent 4 billion on the Death Penalty since 1978. It is expected that we will spend approximately 1 billion more in the next 5 years.

Passing Proposition 34 will do three simple things:

1. Replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole.
2. It will require that inmates serving life in prison without possibility of parole work while in prison, with a part of their wages going towards the victims compensation fund.
3. It allocates 100 million dollars of the savings, over three years, to local law enforcement with the purpose of investigating and solving cold cases.

While we are laying off police officers and teachers and cutting budgets across the board, we are paying for a system that does nothing to make us safer. DNA evidence is collecting dust in Oakland; Los Angeles has stopped processing fingerprints. Catching and holding people responsible for their acts makes us safer.

Voting Yes on Prop 34 will do just that.

This is also personal issue for me. Eight years ago, my aunt was murdered by her only son while he was in the midst of a schizophrenic break.

The D.A. in his case brought forth death penalty charges. Not only did we have to bury my aunt, but we also had to mount a defense for her son with limited resources. I recognize that what he did was horrible but I also recognize that he was very sick. The death penalty would not have been a proper punishment. After years of fighting, he is now in a secure mental facility.

Today I represent 720 families of murder victims who do not believe that the death penalty brings them any justice or closure. We all came to this conclusion in different ways, but we are united in replacing the death
penalty with justice that works. That is why we support Proposition 34, and urge all Californians to vote “Yes”.