Results from a Los Angeles Times poll show voters support ballot measures to repeal California's death penalty and to ease the state's three-strikes sentencing laws.
According to the results, the gap between those who support Proposition 34 and those who oppose it has shrunk to only 3 percent. The poll shows that 42 percent of voters say they would vote for Prop 34 and 45 percent say they would vote against it. The vote could go either way as 12 percent say they are still undecided.
Proposition 34 would apply retroactively to condemned inmates and would require those convicted of murder to work in prison which would help pay for victim restitution funds. If passed, this could save the state up to $130 million a year, according to California's nonpartisan analyst.
The state currently has 727 inmates on death row, the highest number in the nation. Supporters of Prop 34 argue that the system is broken and is sucking up millions of dollars each year on capital trials and appeals. Since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 13 inmates have been put to death. Several others have died from suicide, natural causes and old age.
People in opposition to the proposition contend that the money saved would be spent on healthcare for the inmates. They also argue that more money would be spent on trials for murderers who would no longer fear the death penalty.
Results from the poll also show that 63 percent of voters support Proposition 36, which would amend the three-strikes law so offenders with minor felonies wouldn't be eligible for a life sentence. Under current law, prosecutors can seek sentence of 25 years to life for anyone convicted of a felony who already has been charged with two serious violent crimes.
If approved, some 3,000 convicted felons who are currently serving life sentences would have a chance to petition the court for a reduced sentence.
Currently, about one third of the state's inmates serving sentences under the three-strikes laws were convicted of minor property or drug crimes.