California voters face 17 propositions on the General Election ballot, two of which deal with the death penalty and very different outcomes.
Santa Barbara defense attorney Robert Sanger helped author Proposition 62 with two other attorneys.
“This is a political issue,” Sanger said. “It’s a serious issue. It’s a philosophical issue.”
He said he’s been waiting a lifetime to see the death penalty repealed and has had his share of high profile cases, including acting as co-counsel in the criminal trial of the late Michael Jackson in 2005.
“We have 749 people in death row in California,” Sanger said. “The largest death row in the western hemisphere, the largest death row outside of countries we really would not want to be associated with.”
One of those people on death row is Ryan Hoyt, convicted of murder in Santa Barbara County in the high-profile Jesse James Hollywood trial. Hoyt was among those involved in the death of Nicholas Markowitz. Sanger said the state’s death penalty system is broken, expensive and is not a deterrent.
“Ultimately innocent people have been executed and will be executed,” Sanger said. “There is no way to avoid it.”
If Prop 62 passes, death row sentences would be changed to life without parole.
“It requires work and restitution on the part of the people who are doing life in prison,” Sanger said.
However, death penalty supporters have a proposition of their own on the ballot: Proposition 66 would speed up execution timelines.
Sanger broke down the outcome if both Propositions 62 and 66 pass.
“Under the law, the proposition with the greatest number of votes prevails,” Sanger said. “And so if 62 and 66 both pass, if 62 has more votes, then the death penalty is repealed and 66 has no validity. The contrary is also true.”
Sanger said the last field poll put Prop 62 slightly ahead but if it does not pass, Sanger said he will not give up the fight.