California Proposition 17, Death Penalty in the California Constitution (1972)
The energy behind passing it was developed when the California Supreme Court ruled on February 17, 1972 that California's then-existing death penalty laws were unconstitutional in the case of People v. Anderson.
In 1979, the court upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 17 in People v. Frierson. Defendant Frierson argued in that case that Prop 17 amounted to a revision of the California Constitution, not an amendment, and was therefore not allowable under the laws governing the initiative process in California. The high court disagreed.
The ballot language said:
- Amends California Constitution to provide that all state statutes in effect February 17, 1972 requiring, authorizing, imposing, or relating to death penalty are in full force and effect, subject to legislative amendment or repeal by statute, initiative or referendum; and that death penalty provided for under those state statutes shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, infliction of cruel or unusual punishments within meaning of California Constitution, article I, section 6, nor shall such punishment for such offenses be deemed to contravene any other provision of California Constitution.
- PDF of the November 7, 1972 ballot proposition voter guide
- Hastings California I&R database
- Text of People v. Frierson