My high school senior spent the last week, preparing for a speech and debate tournament,Â researching the pros and cons of passing new state law calling for the execution of those prisoners sentenced to death within 20 days of their sentencing date.Â It was pretty dramatic stuff, because in high school debate tournaments in OC, you must be able to debate a position you do not personally hold.
The high cost of executing a prisoner can be played on both sides of the argument.
With the law-and-order Republicans always calling for stiffer penalties and longer jail sentences, and then decrying the high cost of prisons, I appeal to your low taxes mantra; you can save our state $114 million a year by immediately abandoning the death penalty and instead incarcerating a prisoner for life without a chance for parole.
This NY Times opinion article makes a pretty compelling case:
“States waste millions of dollars on winning death penalty verdicts, which require an expensive second trial, new witnesses and long jury selections. Death rows require extra security and maintenance costs.
Perhaps the most extreme example is California, whose death row costs taxpayers $114 million a year beyond the cost of imprisoning convicts for life. The state has executed 13 people since 1976 for a total of about $250 million per execution. This is a state whose prisons are filled to bursting (unconstitutionally so, the courts say) and whose government has imposed doomsday-level cuts to social services, health care, schools and parks.”
So, for those doing the math at home; that’s nearly $2 million per execution.Â Ask yourself.Â Is Scott Peterson worth $2 million it will take to kill him or is it better punishment to let him rot in solitary for the rest of his life? The Innocence Project has some compelling data on death sentence cases and the site is worth seeing.
We’re broke.Â Rather than spend money on death row prisoners, we could spend it on schools, state parks, shelters for battered women, and more prisons if we need them.
The death penalty is not a deterrent; Texas and Florida probably executive more prisoners than any othr state and they still have a high number of capital cases resulting in a death sentence.Â The only thing an execution stops is that prisoner from ever killing again.