Each Execution Costs California $300 Million
The death penalty is immoral. No one has the right to deliberately take someone else’s life. It is also racist, classist, leads to the execution of innocent people, and doesn’t even deter violent crime. As a result, capital punishment has been abolished in every other Western democracy.
And now there’s another reason to abolish the death penalty in California.
Each Of The 13 Prisoners Executed In California Over 30 Years Cost More Than $300 Million
In a new study the full burden of the death penalty in California has been laid bare by new research that calculates that each of the 13 prisoners executed in the state over the past three decades has cost more than $300m.
From The Guardian:
The study, by two senior legal figures, includes costs incurred at both state and federal level in keeping 714 death row inmates incarcerated as well as steering them through the tortuous judicial process all the way to the death chamber. The average length of time between conviction and execution in California now stands at more than a quarter of a century – double the national average.
The report’s authors, a senior judge, Arthur Alarcon, and a professor at Loyola law school, Paula Mitchell, do not make any judgement for or against the death penalty. They simply ask whether the system makes sense and whether Californian voters are getting what they wanted.
The answer is a resounding no, according to the authors. Since 1978 California and the US government have together spent some $4bn on the state’s death row, yet only 13 prisoners have been executed – an average of $308m for each one. The study, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, warns that the total figure will rise to about $9bn by 2030.
In fact, nobody has been executed in California since 2006, mostly because the state’s use of lethal injection has been mired in legal challenges.
Even sentencing the worst criminal offenders to life in prison rather than killing them would make a marked difference in inmate spending. If every prisoner on death row were given life in prison instead, Alarcon and Mitchell estimate that California would save $200 million annually.
Death Penalty Focus Speaks Out In Strong Support
Responding to this report, Jeanne Woodford, the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the death penalty, declared, “The cost of the death penalty is far too high, and those resources could be better used to prevent crime and assist victims. Hopefully the governor will commute the sentences of those on death row and save the state $1 billion over five years.”
In March, Governor Quinn of Illinois signed a bill to repeal the death penalty in his state, as Care2 reported here. A total of 16 states and the District of Columbia no longer use the death penalty.
According to Amnesty International in their annual report on the death penalty, the United States, along with China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen carried out the most executions last year.
The Death Penalty Is Barbaric And Unjust
It is time to stop this madness. Life without parole is a far better alternative to capital punishment, and an alternative that provides real justice.
The death penalty is barbaric and unjust, but now we know that it is also a colossal waste. Please sign our petition to Governor Jerry Brown, asking him to abolish the death penalty in California.
Photo Credit: World Coalition Against The Death Penalty via Creative Commons