NEW VOICES: Creators of California's Death Penalty Law Now Call for Life Without Parole | Death Penalty Information Center Donald Heller (pictured), who wrote California's death penalty law, and Ron Briggs, who led the campaign to reinstate the law in 1978, are now advocating for replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. Both now say that the law did not have the result they intended. At the time, we were of the impression that it would do swift justice, that it would get the criminals and murderers through the system quickly and apply them the death penalty, Briggs said. But the costs of the death penalty system has led him to reconsider his stance: "I tell my Republican friends, Close your eyes for a moment. If there was a state program that was costing $185 million a year and only gave the money to lawyers and criminals, what would you do with it?"