LOS ANGELES — Californians will decide in November whether to repeal the state's dysfunctional death penalty or reform it. If neither passes, the existing law stays in places.
Here's a look at the death penalty in California, the two ballot initiatives and a look at the death penalty across the U.S.
UNDEADLY DEATH ROW
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978 in California, more than 930 people have been sentenced to death row and only 13 people have been executed. Nearly 100 have died from natural causes (71) or suicide (25), according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The state's crowded death row at San Quentin State Prison now has nearly 750 inmates, the most in the nation.
There hasn't been an execution since a judge ordered an overhaul of state's lethal injection procedures in 2006. The governor's office is finalizing plans to revamp its protocol.
THE PICTURE NATIONALLY
Capital punishment is on the books in 31 states, though only seven states have carried out an execution in the past two years.
Executions and death sentences have been waning across the country since 2000 and reached the lowest mark last year in with 28, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
One of the reasons for the drop in executions is a shortage of drugs used in lethal injections. All federally approved pharmaceutical companies that make drugs used in executions have blocked their use for that purpose.
The death penalty has been repealed in eight states since 2000 either by lawmakers or courts.
Last year's repeal by Nebraska lawmakers is on the ballot for voters to consider reinstating it.
Oklahoma, where are executions are on hold after mistakes in the past two executions, has a ballot measure to enshrine the death penalty in the state constitution, making it harder for legislators or courts to remove it later.
CALIFORNIA REPEAL EFFORT — PROPOSITION 62
Death penalty opponents are renewing efforts that failed four years ago to repeal the ultimate punishment and replace it with life in prison without parole. Inmates on death row would have their sentences reduced to life in prison.
Repeal supporters say the death penalty is waste of money, costing an estimated $150 million a year. They argue that family members of victims would be assured no convicted murderer who would have faced the death penalty goes free and no innocent person would wrongly be executed.
Supporters have raised $5.9 million, with big money donors such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Stanford computer sciences professor Nicholas McKeown giving $1 million each; hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has given $100,000.
Arguments against: Reform proponents say the death penalty is not sought lightly and is an appropriate punishment for the evilest killers. They also say that convicted killers will continue to appeal their sentences as long as they can.
CALIFORNIA REFORM MEASURE — PROPOSITION 66
The measure seeks to trim state appeals to five years by increasing the pool of available attorneys who can take such cases and assigning them immediately to cases, a process that can now take five years.
Automatic appeals granted with every death sentence would still go directly to the California Supreme Court, where lawyers can argue about evidence that should have been allowed or excluded during trial.
Secondary appeals that focus on matters such as new evidence, incompetent legal representation, or misconduct by prosecutors or jurors, would now be heard first by the trial court, preferably before the judge who oversaw the case. Those claims would have to be filed within a year of trial, instead of the current three years.
Supporters have raised $4.8 million, mostly from law enforcement groups. The prison guard union's political action committee has given about $500,000 and the union representing the California Highway Patrol $250,000. Henry T. Nicholas III, co-founder of computer chipmaker Broadcom Corp., gave $200,000.
Arguments against: Death penalty opponents fear the proposed reforms would speed cases along, appoint incompetent lawyers, overwhelm the courts and result in errors that could result in executions of innocent people.