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Families Of Murder Victims Seek Death Penalty Reforms In California

LOS ANGELES (  —  Advocates for death penalty reform are trying to get sweeping changes made in the way California's justice system.

On Friday, a large group of power players -- among them people who have lost loved ones to murder -- made their case to the media.

The group, in turn, wants the voters to make the final call on their reform ideas at the ballot box.

KCAL9's Dave Lopez attended the gathering.

Kermit Alexander, onetime NFL player, was among those who spoke. A gang member killed his mother and three other relatives.

"He put three shots into my mother's head," said Alexander choking back tears. The gang member -- namely Tiequon Aundray Cox -- was sentenced to death in 1865, and is still on death row.

"And her last words were 'Please don't hurt my mother and sister,'" said Marc Klaas, speaking about his daughter Polly.

Her murderer was sentenced to death 22 years ago.

"That isn't justice for my daughter," Klaas said.

The murder victim's families were surrounded by DA's and law enforcement officials who all said the system needs fixing.

The group said they had a budget of $2 million -- money already raised to help in an awareness campaign.

They said they hoped to gather 350,000 signatures on petitions to get their reform measures on the November 2016 ballot.

Among the reforms:

• An immediate appeal for the convicted.

• Reduced waiting time. It can take up to five years to get an attorney.

• The average time on death row is 17 years. Advocates want to get that down to 8-10 years.

• They also want to eliminate death row and single cells for inmates and put convicts among the general prison population.

The reform advocates said today that when they first introduced these reforms in 2014, they made a mistake -- they lacked funding for an awareness campaign. And now they have it.

Seventeen of the current 750 inmates on death row have been there for more than 30 years, Lopez reported.

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