The group - known as "Safe California" - says it has submitted 800,000 signatures to county registrars. The measure would eliminate the death penalty and change the sentences of the more than 700 death row inmates to life without parole. Don Heller wrote the state's death penalty law in the late 70's:
Heller: "I've gone from certainty of the righteousness and the correctness of the death penalty to being absolutely convinced by empirical evidence it's time to abolish it."
Heller says the death penalty is expensive to implement and the money could be better spent solving crimes. Opponents of the effort say the death penalty process should instead be streamlined. A Field Poll late last year found that 68 percent of Californians favor the death penalty. But it also found that given the choice between death and life without parole for a murderer, 48 percent favor life in prison.