OP-ED: California's Costly and Risky Death Penalty

In a recent op-ed, Tracie Olson, the Yolo County Public Defender, explained why California’s death penalty could be replaced with more cost-efficient and less risky alternatives. Olson listed the death penalty’s high costs and risks of wrongful executions as reasons why alternatives to the death penalty would be more beneficial to the state’s citizens. Olson cited a 2011 study that found the death penalty has cost the state over $4 billion since 1978, and that capital cases cost 10-20 times more to litigate than murder trials that do not involve the death penalty. Olson concluded, “A society that respects life does not deliberately kill human beings. An execution is a violent public spectacle of official homicide, and one that endorses killing to solve social problems — the worst possible example to set for the citizenry, and especially children. … I urge everyone to learn the truth and educate themselves about the death penalty….”

(T. Olson, “The truth about the death penalty,” Daily Democrat, July 29, 2012). See Costs and Innocence. Read editorials about the death penalty. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Costs.