Letter: Costly death penalty needs to be voted out | April 18, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - April 18, 2012

Letter: Costly death penalty needs to be voted out

According to a recent California report, it costs $185 million each year to administer the death penalty. Since its reinstatement in 1978, there have been 13 people executed. We have thus spent roughly $471 million per execution or a total of roughly $6 billion in the past 34 years. There are currently 720 inmates on death row in California.

Donald J. Heller, who drafted the death penalty initiative in 1978, now regrets it. "The cost of our system of capital punishment ... is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose," he told the New York Times.

Ron Briggs, who helped get the death penalty on the ballot back then has also changed his mind and has put another initiative on the ballot in 2012 to convert all death sentences to life imprisonment without parole. Administering life sentences is far cheaper than capital punishment, according to a recent state report.

"We're laying off teachers, we're laying off firefighters. This is just crazy," says former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who favors abolishing the death penalty.

There seems to be a consensus among law enforcement experts that the death penalty represents a very poor allocation of precious and dwindling resources regardless of moral or political considerations. Vote to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole this November.

Kaia Eakin

Redwood City