The following comes from a July 14 CA Catholic news release:

SACRAMENTO, CA – During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we, the Catholic Bishops of California support Proposition 62 which would end the use of the death penalty in California.  Our commitment to halt the practice of capital punishment is rooted both in the Catholic faith and our pastoral experience.

The Bishops of the United States have long opposed the use of capital punishment.  In the past, it was sometimes morally justified in order to protect society, but those times have passed.  Proposition 62 provides voters with the opportunity to end this practice in California, just as 19 other states have already done.

Capital punishment has repeatedly been shown to be severely and irrevocably flawed in its application.  In the long – but absolutely necessary – process of ensuring an innocent person is not put to death, we have seen many accused persons being exonerated as new forms of forensic investigation have enabled us to better scrutinize evidence.  The high cost of implementing the death penalty has diverted resources from more constructive and beneficial programs both for rehabilitation and restoration of victims and offenders.  Finally, repeated research has demonstrated that the death penalty is applied inconsistently along racial, economic and geographical lines.

For all of these reasons, we must also oppose Proposition 66 which will expedite executions in California.  The search for a fair and humane execution process and protocol has failed for decades.  Any rush to streamline that process will inevitably result in the execution of more innocent people.  Neither the proponents nor the opponents of the death penalty wish this result.

As Catholic Bishops we are heartened by the growth of Catholic lay movements aimed at ending the use of the death penalty.  The faithful have heard the words of St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis to stop this practice around the world.  As Pope Francis has stated:

A spreading opposition to the death penalty, even as an instrument of legitimate social defense, has developed in public opinion, and this is a sign of hope. In fact, modern societies have the ability to effectively control crime without definitively taking away a criminal’s chance to redeem himself.  The issue lies in the context of a perspective on a criminal justice system that is ever more conformed to the dignity of man and God’s design for man and for society.  And also a criminal justice system open to the hope of reintegration in society. The commandment “thou shall not kill” has absolute value and pertains to the innocent as well as the guilty. (2/21/16 – Angelus)