Beyond the walls of San Quentin State Prison, there are more than 700 inmates on death row, including notorious killers like San Diegan David Westerfield and former San Diego resident Scott Peterson.
But according to a new bill introduced by State Senator Loni Hancock, the death penalty would be abolished and everyone on death row would serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"We can not afford the expensive failure that the California death penalty has become,"said Sen Loni Hancock D-Oakland.
According to a recent study by a federal judge, California spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment cases since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978.
During that time, 13 inmates have been executed, which comes out to $308 million per execution.
Senator Hancock says the main problem is the appeals process, which can take 15 to 20 years.
"It costs us $184 million a year to maintain the death penalty, and you know you can send a lot of kids to college for $184 million on full scholarship,"Sen. Hancock told NBCSanDiego.
That's why Senator Hancock is hoping the bill makes it to the November 2012 ballot, so voters can decide what issues are the most important for the state of California.
"From providing education to our kids, to maintaining our local police officers who really make us safe on the streets,"said Sen. Hancock.