The High Cost of Death-Penalty Ambivalence

I glanced at this headline over my cereal, but didn’t bother to read the article. But then my better half left it in the bathroom, where I was forced to read it, and found the numbers it contains to actually be kind of surprising. From the LA Times: Death row often means a long life.

According to state and federal records obtained by The Times, maintaining the California death penalty system costs taxpayers more than $114 million a year beyond the cost of simply keeping the convicts locked up for life and not counting the millions more in court costs needed to prosecute capital cases and hold post-conviction hearings in state and federal courts.

With 11 executions spread over 27 years, on a per-execution basis, California and federal taxpayers have paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars for each life taken at state hands.

Now, I realize that those numbers are skewed by the history of the Rose Bird court, when no executions at all were conducted for a long time, even though the law provided for them. But even so, $250 million per execution is an awful lot of money to be spending, don’t you think?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.