By Sam Stanton
Opponents of the state's death penalty announced a new effort Monday aimed at getting an initiative before voters next year that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.
The effort uses the enormous costs of California's death penalty as a sales point with voters, and organizers said this morning that roughly $4 billion has been spent since 1978 to execute only 13 inmates.
Jeanne Woodford, a former San Quentin warden who presided over four executions, was the main speaker at a news conference outside the state Attorney General's office in Sacramento and was joined by lawyers, crime victims and others to declare that the time is now to do away with executions.
"I vividly recall my staff asking, 'Did we make the world safer tonight?'" Woodford said of the nights that executions were conducted with her in charge. "We all know the answer was no."
The initiative paperwork was filed with the Attorney General's office Friday after a bid to repeal the death penalty in the Legislature went nowhere last week.
Organizers say they need more than 500,000 valid signatures to get the matter on the November 2012 ballot and that qualifying the initiative will cost up to $1.5 million.
Photo caption: Lorrain Taylor's twin sons Albade and Obadiah were 22-years-old when they gunned down in Oakland in 2000, the killer is still at large. At right, Ronnie Sandoval's son, Arthur Carmona, was 16-years-old when he was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. In 2000 he was exonerated, released, then killed eight years later. Both women were speakers at a news conference on Monday announcing a new effort aimed at getting an initiative before voters that would abolish the death penalty. Photo by Jose Luis Villegas