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Calif. death penalty abolition proposed

SACRAMENTO, July 5 (UPI) -- A movement to abolish California's rarely used death penalty is afoot among some state lawmakers who say it's too costly for taxpayers.

A state legislative panel was to hold the first hearing Tuesday on a bill that would do away with the death penalty.

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"Today we're not tough on crime; we're tough on the taxpayer," said the sponsor, Sen. Loni Hancock, an Oakland Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the budget subcommittee on corrections. "Every time we spend money on failed policies like the death penalty, we drain money from having more police officers on the street, more job training, more education, more of the things that would truly make for safer communities."

Since reinstating capital punishment in 1978, California has spent about $4 billion on a system that has produced 13 executions, says a new study authored by a federal appellate judge and a law professor, "Executing the Will of the Voters? A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature's Death Penalty Debacle."

The study found most of the 714 inmates currently on death row will wait more than 20 years before their cases are resolved, The Orange County Register reported.

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"California's voters must decide whether the death penalty system should be reformed or abolished because the cost of maintaining the current system without reform is insupportable," the authors say.

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