Supporters of a proposed initiative to repeal the death penalty in California plan to begin turning in nearly 800,000 voter signatures today in hopes of qualifying for the November ballot.
The initiative, which is backed by a group called California Taxpayers for Justice, would replace California's capital punishment with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Supporters say the change, which would apply to inmates currently on death row, would save the state millions.
A recent Field Poll, however, showed more than two-thirds of California voters continue to support the death penalty.
Proponents need 504,760 valid voter signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot. The campaign said on its Twitter account that it will turn in nearly 800,000 petition signatures. A campaign committee formed to support the measure reported raising more than $1.3 million through the end of 2011. Major contributors include branches of the American Civil Liberties Union, Google executive Robert Alan Eustace, Hyatt Development Corporation CEO Nicholas Pritzker and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
Proponents have scheduled press conferences throughout the state to begin filing the signatures. Listed speakers at a 10 a.m. event in Sacramento include Don Heller, the author of the 1978 initiative that reinstated the death penalty, and the mother of two murder victims.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 10:49 a.m. with updated numbers from the campaign's press conference and Twitter account.