More than 30 years ago, California voters passed a ballot initiative to broaden the reach of the state’s death penalty system. The law was intended to serve as a national model for how capital punishment should function in America. The expansion is called the Briggs Initiative, named after two of the architects of the law: Ron Briggs and his father, former State Senator John Briggs. The text of the law was written by attorney Don Heller. Decades later, Don Heller and Ron Briggs are again advocating for an initiative, but this time they want the state to repeal the death penalty.
Ron Briggs is the El Dorado County Supervisor. Don Heller is an attorney who helped write Proposition Seven in California. Both are advocates for the SAFE California campaign, a fall 2012 ballot initiative that would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.