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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with murder in Boston bombings

The charges, including the shooting death of a police officer, could bring the death penalty.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged on Thursday with killing three people in the Boston Marathon bombings and fatally shooting a police officer in a federal indictment that alleged that he downloaded instructions on building a homemade bomb from an al-Qaeda website.

The 56-page indictment also said that Dzhkokhar contributed to the death of his 27-year-old brother, Tamerlan when he drove over him while trying to escape a confrontation with police three days after the April 15 bombings..

The 19-year-old Cambridge, Mass., student is also charged with using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and the use of a firearm resulting in death.

Tsarnaev, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted, is scheduled to be arraigned July 10. 

Source: USA Today, June 27, 2013

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