Release Date:  May 14, 2012
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

Bookmark and Share
VICTIMS GROUP SEEKS RULING TO REMOVE DEATH PENALTY INITIATIVE

The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF) announced today that it has filed a petition in the Third District Court of Appeal on behalf of the mother of a murdered California police officer, arguing that the so-called "SAFE California Act" should be removed from the November ballot for violating the state’s single-subject rule.

The petition is filed on behalf of Phyllis Loya, whose son Larry Lasater was a Pittsburg, CA police officer in 2005, when he was murdered by an armed robbery suspect, and CJLF President Michael Rushford. The petitioners contend that the initiative combines two unrelated provisions into one measure.

The Act actually has three main provisions. The first provision proposes that all imprisoned murderers work and that a portion of their wages go to restitution. Existing California law already requires this. The second provision of the Act abolishes California’s death penalty for the state’s worst murderers who are currently under a sentence of death and for any future murderers convicted of the worst types of homicide. The third provision of the Act removes $100 million from the state’s General Fund and authorizes the Attorney General to distribute the money to law enforcement agencies to help solve murder and rape cases. The Act does not specify that these funds be in addition to existing law enforcement funding, leaving the Legislature with the option to cut existing funding to law enforcement to offset allocations to the new fund. The Act does not require that the money be from actual savings, if any, resulting from abolition of the death penalty.

"This is a cruel, deceptive measure. It tries to drive a wedge between two groups of murder victims’ families, telling one group that they will have money to pursue justice in their cases but only by denying justice to the other families. It is all the more cruel because the promise is a mirage," said Foundation Legal Director Kent Scheidegger. "This kind of manipulation, forcing the people to vote on two different measures as an all-or-nothing choice, is exactly what the single-subject rule was put in the Constitution to prevent."

CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger is available for further comment at (916) 446-0345.