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POLL: Should California Voters End The Death Penalty To Save Money?

“The cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that could be obtained from it — and now I think there’s very little or zero benefit — is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose.”

In 1978, a state ballot initiative written by Donald Heller, a former prosecutor, gave California one of the strongest death penalty laws in America.

Now Heller and others are working to ban capital punishment via a November vote.

“It’s been a colossal failure,” Heller told The New York Times.  “The cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that could be obtained from it — and now I think there’s very little or zero benefit — is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose.”

Would you vote to end the death penalty in the state and make the sentence life without possibility of parole?

Dolores Thayer April 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Where's the figures that show how much it has cost us to house the killers on death row?! Oh wait! maybe they could EXECUTE them instead as per their convictions. Imagine the money we'd save. By the way, when was the last execution here?! If I remember right the last one scheduled didn't happen because of the protestors insisted it was cruel and inhumane treated. GIVE US BREAK!
Anon April 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM
If we stopped housing the illegals in our prisons and built a prison on the other side of the boarder that didnt have union guards, we would save a ton of money. Stop giving them fancy dental and healthcare also. They are treated better than our elderly and working class. Its time to stop the nonsense!
lori April 11, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I think we should its much to kind to euth. A person who is one deathrow not mention the expense.we should let them do population control on themselves in prison...not mention have the people on death row die of old age.not the death penalty..
Jay April 11, 2012 at 03:04 AM
No I would not vote to end capital punishment... I would vote to fast track the death penalty and start executing the people that have been living on my $ for 10+ years that should have been executed a long time ago. How does life without parole save the tax payer anything? That is prety much what we have now. Plus California spends 3 to 5 times as much per prisoner than other states, why would I want to keep them around for life.
Warner Huxtable April 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM
The major expense for the death penalty is the lengthy and expensive appeals process. If that could be reliably sped up, the death penalty would be worth keeping. But no, under the current system capital punishment is not worth the cost.
Warner Huxtable April 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Well, things in California are just more expensive, but you make a valid point. The state spends something like five times as much per year per inmate than on it does each year per student. There is something very wrong with that.
Diana April 11, 2012 at 05:27 PM
California prisons are country clubs compared to other state prisons. We need to start deporting the illegals instead of housing them. This is a waste of tax dollars and ties up our courts, send them back to their own country. The death penalty is not carried out to it's fullest potential and housing inmates for their natural lives at the expensive of tax payers is absurd. We need to stop being the nanny State and getting rid of dead beats, over loaded prisons, and move on.
LHJ April 11, 2012 at 07:49 PM
The desire to have someone die in exchange for having killed someone, I understand. However, given the fact that most trials in our state and our country lack the requirement to stick with facts and evidence, I doubt the true effectiveness of the death penalty. Forget about the money. I think it is horrible of a society that just wants someone to pay for the crime, regardless whether or not they are actually guilty of committing the crime. That, to me, is barbaric. Too many people die in this country who have not committed a crime. Before you jump on that statement, if one innocent person is executed it's too many. Until we return to a system that actually uses bare evidence and facts (as the system was developed to do) and stop the theatrics that rely upon manipulating the emotions of juries to influence convictions, I don't believe we should have a death penalty. Convicting people in this country has become an art that does little to nothing to either curb crime or provide a true sense of safety in our society. I accept that many people just like the thought of killing. Especially when they can sit in their chairs and read about it or watch it on T.V., but that doesn't make doing it right. We spend millions upon millions of dollars prosecuting, in a way that is entertaining and appeals to human emotions and we report things in a way that totally slants public opinion with complete disregard for whether or not the person is truly guilty.. That is just wrong.
justme April 11, 2012 at 07:58 PM
How in the world would this save us money? I would like to see how much it costs us to execute a prisoner vs the yearly cost to house that prisoner, THEN we will talk about saving money. Besides, giving the state of California more money is just feeding the beast rather than fixing the problem. If you give them more money, they will continue to blow it. If you don't give them more money, they are forced to look at the budget again and cut what is bloating our budget. More money is not the answer.
LHJ April 11, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Dolores Thayer, I would like to know what you think about the people who are wrongly convicted. That is why we have the "expensive" appeals system. I realize it isn't working the way it is supposed to, but the process is necessary as long as we have the death penalty. Given the ruling last April, by the Supreme Court, that removes accountability on the part of prosecutors for not disclosing information or evidence that would prove the innocence of someone on trial, I personally think the system is now slanted for the purpose of making someone pay, regardless of whether or not they actually committed a crime, and making it easier for prosecutors to put people in prison or on death row just to increase their own conviction rate. When it gets to the point that our system no longer requires a prosecutor to disclose evidence or information that will prove the innocence of someone, we no longer have justice in this country. What I find most offensive about the system the way it is, is the fact that we have guilty people running the streets committing crimes, someone else is being required to pay with their lives for. THAT is cruel and inhumane.
LHJ April 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Hi Diana, You speak as though you have experience in this subject. I do have a question or two regarding your philosophy though. Are you suggesting that we do something else with the people we don't want in society while they serve out the legal punishment the state (with voter approval) has imposed? Our judicial system has been "streamlined" to the extent that evidence is no longer a "MAJOR" part of the requirement for obtaining convictions. Prosecutors are no longer required to produce or even inform the court that they may have evidence that would prove the innocence of those they are prosecuting. Given that information, how would you propose we deal with those people you consider "deadbeats"? You seem to be one of those people who enjoys a point of view without acknowledging the flaws in the system that are placing people in prison for crimes they did not commit, all for the sake of making someone (anyone) pay for a crime, as long as the state can obtain a conviction. This is the reason the death penalty cannot be carried out to "it's fullest potential". Why is it so important to kill people when we all know there are many people on death row who did not commit the crimes they were convicted of and the guilty people are still walking the streets? That's the problem I have with the "black and white" thinking people who just want to do away with people so that they can't prove how messed up the system is.

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