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Ex-DA Garcetti Backs Calif. Effort To Abolish Death Penalty

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(Photo credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A former Los Angeles County district attorney is the latest — and perhaps most surprising — public official to call for an end to the death penalty for criminals in California.

Gil Garcetti, who spent 32 years in the district attorney’s office, including eight serving as the county’s top prosecutor until 2000, supports an initiative proposed for the November 2012 ballot that would replace capital punishment with life prison terms.

Garcetti told KNX 1070′s Charles Feldman that executions in California are relatively few and far between.

“We have 712 people on California’s death row,” he said. “Most of those inmates will die of natural causes in state prison without the imposition of the death penalty.”

Garcetti pointed to an estimated $125 million that the state spends every year on executions that he claimed simply are “not being done”.

When asked why he failed to push for the abolition of the death penalty while he was still D.A., Garcetti said he had seen glimmers of hope for reform during his tenure — but not anymore.

“We spent about $184 million every year simply to process, to house, to prosecute, and to keep incarcerated the people on California’s death row,” he said.

The state performed its last execution six years ago, and its future remains cloudy after doubts surfaced over the safety and humaneness of the state’s preferred lethal injection cocktail.

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