Taxpayers for Justice, an organization of death penalty opponents is trying to obtain California voters’ support for the November 2012 election. Their main focus is the huge cost of execution on the taxpayers.
The campaign sped up after the result of one study, in which it is shown that taxpayers have spent $4 billion to carry out only 13 executions over the last 30 years, was released. The author, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell, said the death penalty has become “a multibillion-dollar debacle”. They stated their opinion strongly before the Senate Public Safety Committee earlier this week.
According to the study, taxpayers spend an extra $184 million each year to keep death row inmates fed, guarded and represented by lawyers.
The former San Quentin State Prison warden, Jeanne Woodford, who now is the head of Death Penalty Focus said that money would be better spent putting cops on the street and investigators on the 46 percent of murder cases that go unsolved. Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed a plan to build a new $356-million death row in April, also preferred to spend money on children and the elderly than on prisoners.
Now Taxpayers for Justice is trying to recruit more than 100 law enforcement leaders to participate in the campaign. My frustration is more about the fact that the death penalty does not serve any useful purpose and it's very expensive,” former Los Angeles County DA Gil Garcetti said.
Most people understand and appreciate that the death penalty has never proven to be a deterrent. It is simply retribution for family and friends of the murdered individual.
A few counties have already cancelled the capital punishment because of fiscal debate. However, the bill needs to be passed in a statewide field.
Out of 714 people on California's death row, only seven have exhausted all appeals. The last execution in California was nearly six years ago. The biggest problem is new lawsuits question the origin and safety of one of the lethal-injection drugs. If it can't be resolved, no one would to be eligible for execution in the near future.