Death Penalty to Hit the Ballot

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Hollywood figures from Mike Farrel to Alec Baldwin and Paul Haggis are signing on to end the death penalty in California, where 721 convicts are on death row (the last time a person executed was in 2006). The group SAFE California, whose supporters include the ACLU and Amnesty International, has gathered nearly 800,000 signatures -- 300,000 more than needed -- to place an initiative on the November ballot that would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. SAFE backers argue that the death penalty actually reduces public safety because of its costs. "California has always been a bellwether state," says Farrell, president of Death Penalty Focus. "This initiative is fashioned in a way that hits the core issues for the public."