California death penalty cases cost $184 million each year

June 21, 2011

California death penalty cases cost $184 million each year

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.


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16 Comments

  1. Spirit Filled says:

    My church doesn’t believe in the death penalty and neither do I. Doesn’t mean I don’t have a gun around to protect my wife and home. I won’t pull the switch on anyone but I will pull the trigger if threatened in my home.

    (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  2. bobfromsanluis says:

    If ONE convicted death-row inmate is executed and evidence surfaces to prove their innocence, that is cause to abandon the death penalty now and forever, period. There have been far too many convictions all over the United States by over zealous prosecutors and detectives that have some sort of nefarious reasoning for fabricating evidence, restricting testimony by witnesses that could exonerate the accused, and judges who will disallow DNA testing that can prove beyond any doubt an accused person’s innocence of the crime they have been charged with. Once the convicted (rightly or wrongly) is executed, there is no going back, no “do overs”, no possibility that a potentially innocent convict can be exonerated and set free. Why is it that we continue with this barbaric practice that most civilized nations have discontinued? The death penalty is not a “deterrent”; it is vengeance, plain and not-so-simple. Eliminate the death penalty, put those convicts into the general prison population and reduce the costs of running the prisons.

    (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
    • easymoney says:

      Then using the thinking of some who post on here quite regularly, let’s let em all go free.
      Hell, think of the money we could save by not having any mean old police to arrest them, no courts to try them, no jails to house them, no mean nasty guards to watch over them and help them lift weights, no blood sucking lawyers to fight over the cases…
      Life would be so simple and cheap… Just think charley manson and his ilk would still be out and about having such fun murdering innocent people.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      bob I agree with your post but I’m going to take it one step further that you might not agree with. Historically IMO this is the religious/conservative way, judge jury and executioner. They seem to be happy to judge others and the Bible has some of the harshest punishments for what sometimes are the most minor offences. Christians and conservatives in particular can be the most judgemental. Eye for eye, and the hypocritical part of this that stands out to me is the non forgiving nature of these moral police. Capital punishment is barbaric and there no reason to continue it.

      @easy, I always like to hear from people like, why do you feel that we should continue the death penalty? What purpose (morally and logical) do you feel that it serves?

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
      • r0y says:

        I question if you’ve met any “true” Christians, then. One either values life (anti-abortion / anti-death penalty) or they do not. Christ is consistent in His message, and that is to value life. Love.

        Go ahead and pin it on conservative, you often do for issues where you need a “bad guy” – that’s fine. However, I know just as many liberals who are for the death penalty over conservatives. I think the value of life question cannot be boxed in, no matter how convenient it may be to one’s argument.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          If you took my post as saying that ALL Christians are bad then that is not what I meant. As I said, historically it appears that the ideas of killing others is accepted by Christians and much more by the right than the left. Right from the beginning it seems as if the death penalty is not only accepted but expected as ‘a good thing’. This is an example: “If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.” (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
          That’s not exactly what I call loving your neighbor or an example of forgiveness.

          I can’t think of a better person to label ‘the bad guy’ than a con., aren’t you all bad?
          You know I’m giving you cr@p. I have family members and friends that I love that are both cons and Christians. But I do believe that when you find a very judgemental person, the type that tell you how you should and how you should die they are usually right winged Christians….again not ALL right winged Christians.

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
    • cheseburger says:

      From here, you right,”There have been far too many convictions all over the United States by over zealous prosecutors and detectives that have some sort of nefarious reasoning for fabricating evidence, restricting testimony by witnesses that could exonerate the accused, and judges who will disallow DNA testing that can prove beyond any doubt an accused person’s innocence of the crime they have been charged with.”
      Okay but take away the threat of death and you have anarky mahem and scabies combined, don’t take away death, take away the coruption of the leagal system, that let’s creeps like, well can’t mention any names, let’s just call them the HURST bandits, get away with murder, as they have already done,,,,,!!!!!!????? I say we kick their asses and gasses em,,,, NOW,,,,,, ever seen a body of some one who died? To all of you, this is like a comic book, none of you have been even close to death let alone close to taking a life, in the bible, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth, take my daughters lollypop? Grigger Jones knows who I am, and I shaking so bad I better get a stronger trigger pull.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. r0y says:

    I am against the death penalty, as it is not being used as a deterrent, and too many cases have proved to be erroneous (often due to dna testing years later); July 2011 reason magazine has all kinds of articles and stats on the criminal justice system and various arguments for and against death penalties, corrections in general, and society’s attitude.

    Does it bother anyone that the United States FAR OUT-PACES the world in incarcerations?

    This is a hornets nest that is likely to be kicked over in California before the rest of the country comes to grips with it. Why do you think so many Correctional Peace Officers Associations (unions) around the country, and especially here in CA, have become so political lately? It’s a booming industry.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      OMG r0y, is it the end of the world, I agree with you!

      I will repeat what I’ve said over and over. If one innocent person is put to death then it’s murder by the state and it’s morally wrong. I have a tendency to put myself in other peoples shoes and I when I’ve read about these cases of innocent people being put to death I picture that person being one of my loved ones. It’s just not right. On a practical side the expense is crazy.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  4. easymoney says:

    “There are 714 death row prisoners in California.”
    How long have they been housed here and how much is it costing us taxpayers?

    “The state has carried out 13 executions since then, or about $308 million each.”
    If they were executed promptly after their trial and sentencing, the cost would most likely be very much less. And if they are not going to be excecuted, and instead live their lives out at taxpayers expense, what’s the point?

    (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Yeah, like Hitler did with the ovens, move them in and out, bing bang problem solved fast, the final solution. We could use their gold filling to pay for the cost of the executions. H@ll, we don’t need no stinkin DNA or Juries, I’ll bet you can spot a guilty guy a mile away.

      (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
    • cheseburger says:

      One 308 cartridge costs 88 cents.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down

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