California death penalty cases cost $184 million each year
June 21, 2011
Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state’s taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment. The state has carried out 13 executions since then, or about $308 million each. [Los Angeles Times]
A comprehensive analysis of the death penalty’s costs to taxpayers conducted by a federal judge and a law professor over a three-year period found that the state spends $184 million annually on the condemned.
This includes costs for capital trials and appeals, death row security, and legal representation.
The average wait between conviction and execution in California is about 17 years, about twice the national figure, according U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, one of the study’s authors.
The report, “Executing the Will of the Voters: A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature’s Multi-Billion-Dollar Death Penalty Debacle,” conducted by Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell, offers three options to address these issues: add $85 million more to the budget, preserving capital punishment; reduce the number of death penalty crimes, saving $55 million annually; or abolish the death penalty altogether, saving taxpayers about $1 billion every five or six years.
There are 714 death row prisoners in California.