EDITORIALS: "We're wasting money on a process that accomplishes little"
A recent editorial in the Paradise Post of California called the state's death penalty a "charade" and recommended that it be ended. The editorial cited figures released by the state's Legislative Analyst's Office, which found that repealing the death penalty would "save state and counties about $100 million annually in murder trials, death penalty appeals and corrections in the first few years, growing to about $130 million annually thereafter." The editorial also emphasized that since the death penalty law was enacted in California in 1978, 900 individuals have been sentenced to death, but only 14 (actually 13) have been executed, while 83 have died on death row and 75 have had their sentences reduced. Even assuming that executions resumed at their prior pace, the paper said it would take 906 years to execute just those presently on death row. The editorial concluded, "[W]e're wasting money on a process that accomplishes little. Knowing that there's a far better chance of an inmate dying in prison than via the death penalty, why continue the charade?" Read full editorial below.
Voters in California will be considering Proposition 34 in November, a ballot initiative that would replace the death penalty with life without parole as the maximum punishment for murder, while using the money saved to solve cold cases and support victims.
EDITORIAL: Time to end the death penalty
Posted: August 29, 2012
This November, California voters are going to be asked to repeal the death penalty. The election hasn't started yet, but we anticipate a whole lot of soft on crime ads directed at Proposition 34 supporters.
And an even greater number of claims by supporters of those who've been unfairly executed.
Prop. 34 would repeal the death penalty as the maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder, and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
Those already on death row would be commuted to life in prison.
Prop. 34 also claims that those found guilty of murder must work while in prison, with their wages subject to deductions to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.
It would also give $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases over four years.
The Legislative Analyst's Office said that the measure may save state and counties about $100 million annually in murder trials, death penalty appeals and corrections in the first few years, growing to about $130 million annually thereafter.
When we looked at this measure, the work requirement and the notion that the state has $100 million to spare on investigations of homicide and rape cases over four years didn't move us much.
Although the endorsement vote was split among us, two things moved us to endorse Prop 34.
As the LAO points out, “Since the current death penalty law was enacted in California in 1978, around 900 individuals have received a death sentence.”
* 14 have been executed;
* 83 have died prior to being executed; and
* 75 have had their sentences reduced by the courts.
As of July 2012, California had 725 offenders in state prison who were sentenced to death. Let's say half of the 725 on death row are executed at the current rate of one every 2.5 years: It'll take this state 906 years to get it done.
In short, we're wasting money on a process that accomplishes little. Knowing that there's a far better chance of an inmate dying in prison than via the death penalty, why continue the charade?
And this isn't a Republican vs. Democrat issue – we've had governors from both parties in office before those 14 cases were brought to their legal end.
Aside from the money, government shouldn't have the power to decide who dies and when. We punish those who take that decision into their own hands and there's no good reason why government should assume that role.
Government's role should be to protect society from some of our most brutal members. And locking them away for the rest of their natural lives does that.
Whether they gain absolution is up to their maker, not us.