An initiative [text, PDF] to repeal California's death penalty [JURIST news archive] qualified Monday for the November ballot after receiving 500,000 signatures. If approved by voters, the Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act (SAFE California Act) [advocacy website] would overhaul the death penalty system in California. It will not only change all death sentences to a sentence of life without parole, but would also require inmates to work and pay into a victim compensation fund. It would also contribute to funding investigations of unsolved murder and rape cases. The act's supporters also claim that the repeal of the death penalty would result in significant savings for the California government.
Earlier this month the Connecticut legislature voted to repeal the death penalty [JURIST report] making it the seventeenth state to do so and the fifth in the past five years. New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 34 states retain its use. Last month Amnesty International reported that the number of worldwide executions increased from 2010 to 2011 [JURIST report], while the number of recorded death sentences decreased.