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


W. C
W. C24 days ago


William C
William C24 days ago

Thank you for the information.

Robert R.
Robert Ronck6 years ago

Do I mistake, are we in the 17th or the 21st century.
NO ONE has the right to take live away. In that case all murders have to be executed ...also officials who signed for death "penalty*!!!

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Crimes of "passion" are not usually repeated (multiples),and I'm not sure if a serial rapist is passionate when he kills or not but suppose at some point in time when he's planning his next crime, stalking his next victime, he becomes quite passionate about that. The death penalty is not one for every person who commits the same "offense" and the penalty should not be applied to each equally.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Here in Texas, the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has found that moral arguments don't work with legislators. It is the cost issue that gets their attention. Also, because of their experience with this issue, 60% of police chiefs across the U.S. are against the death penalty because it isn't a deterrent. Most murders are crimes of passion, not premeditated. Unless we admit to being a blood-thirsty people who do this for revenge, we must admit that the death penalty is an ancient, unproductive, out-dated concept.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Annmari, it's not revenge, it's justice and eliminating any possibility those pieces of crap will ever get out to offend again. It also boggles my mind to think my taxpayers' dollars are supporting them when they are living a better lifestyle than many homeless war veterans who are much more deserving of even existing, let alone given 3 meals a day, access to books, TV, the internet, and yes drug use. Why should Charles Manson and Gary Ridgway live? Manson still controls other people from prison, always has. He needed to be eliminated, and so does Ridgway. See, they are NOT "stripped of rights" except they can't leave the property or vote. That's about it.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Ron Williamson.
Nicola Sacco.
Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
Joe Hill.
Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg.
Julius Rosenberg.
This is just the names of six people, but it's six too many!
Only Ron Williamson got out alive.
As long as the death penalty are not equal punishment for all murderers, as long as it is doubt about guilt, as long as it is racist, as long as it is wrong for anyone to take a life, it HAS to be abolished!
I do not mind keeping mass murderers, child rapists, torturers, etc behind lock and key until they pass away. I do not mind they being kept in harsh conditions with no way of escaping. I do not mind they being striped of any rights.
But do not use revenge to do what the criminals did. The death penalty does not disencourage anyone from committing horrible crimes.
And, would you like to live with the fact an innocent person was executed?

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago

Very interesting comments. The death penalty is abolished Bulgaria.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Yes, I remember of her. Check my profile.......I live near Seattle. Ted Bundy is a very familiar name around here, as is Gary Ridgway. He's a despicable piece of crap that needs to be eliminated from the planet. "Google" David Campbell. Another one who was from around here, and he was excecuted. He was "paroled" from prison after raping two women, and the very day he got out, he broke into their house, raped both the Mother and daughter AGAIN, and slit both of their throats.

Let's see, we can go on and ON about those who can justifiably be executed, can't we? If there is any doubt, no. I am not even sure if Casey Anderson qualifies, as despicable a human being as she is. She may only be a danger to her offspring or herself, who knows. If she never has any more children, maybe she can be productive, someday.

Robby C.
Past Member 6 years ago

It often makes me wonder- years ago, when horrible people were dragged out & hung to death days after being caught, it seems that people stayed in line a bit better- I mean, bad stuff happened, but not so much. I often wonder if going back to that simpler way of life might help? At same time, I also wonder if it might desensitize people more...?

Diane- Bundy's a good example for the real topic here. He was educated, very intelligent, decent looking, charming, sociable, etc. He had everyone fooled until that last second. I'm almost surprised he didn't talk his way out of the death penalty! IF he had lived, who knows- he very well might have escaped & done much more damage! Like Winston Mosely- not sure if you know of him- killer of Kitty Genovese in Greenwich Village in late 60's- BIG psycological case b/c it's said that the stabbing was done in two parts & lasted ver 30min w/many witnesses & no one called the cops until near the very end- it defines diffusion of responsibility. He did some gross stuff there too, but I'll skip that. He overpowered some gaurds while on death row in early 80's & got into a woman's house & raped her for ~2days before he was recaptured. Can't remember how it all turned out, but the man was pure evil & strapping his ass to the chair in ~1970 would have saved at least a couple deaths & rapes, not to mention money, time, effort, etc...! It's tough for me to find much sympathy for these people unless I honestly thin