Poll-ar Opposites on Death Penalty

In 2016, California voters rejected Proposition 62, which would have eliminated the death penalty, and approved Proposition 66, which speeded up the process for executions. As Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom said he would be “accountable to the will of the voters” and not put “my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us, as relates to the death penalty.” As governor, Newsom did the opposite.

On March 13, the governor issued a reprieve for all 737 convicted murderers on death row. Newsom said he believed some of the reprieved murderers might be innocent, which gave Californians good cause for bewilderment. Governor Newsom is not an attorney and not a judge. He did not attend the trials and produced no new exculpatory evidence in any of the cases. After the reprieve, other mysteries surfaced.

A Survey USA poll found 60 percent of respondents in California support the death penalty, with 26 opposed and the rest uncertain. On the other hand, a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 62 percent of Californians opposed the death penalty. As Californians might note, the percentage was nearly the direct opposite of Survey USA, and the percentage of 62 was the same number as the 2016 ballot proposition to repeal the death penalty, which 53.6 percent of California voters rejected. It was as though Jerry Brown had pledged support for Proposition 13, the 1978 People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, then refused to implement the measure, followed by a PPIC poll showing that a majority of Californians opposed Proposition 13.

Californians might note that the Public Policy Institute of California does accept government funding, listing the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture as contributors. Whatever the motive for the PPIC poll, which according to president Mark Baldassare was only added to their broader “Californians and Their Government” survey after Newsom’s reprieve edict, the governor is doubtless popular among convicted murderers.

Last April, accused “Golden State Killer” Joseph James DeAngelo was charged with at least 12 murders and more than 45 rapes. If DeAngelo had been found guilty and received the death penalty, he too would have been granted a reprieve by Gavin Newsom.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
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