General

Too broke to kill

California can't afford the death penalty, say advocates

Opponents of the death penalty in California have marshalled a novel argument against capital punishment: lack of capital. The cash-strapped state could save as much as US$1 billion in the next five years if it simply commuted the sentences of its 682 death-row inmates, who have been in limbo since the institution three-and-a-half years ago of a court-ordered suspension of executions. The abolitionists have been further empowered by California budget crisis. Between the costs of legal representation and the price of accommodation in high-security death-row prison units, a bipartisan panel that looked into the issue concluded the existence of the death penalty is costing the state $200 million annually (the annual cost of imprisonment alone is about $138,000 per inmate). Notably, a former state attorney general, and a former head of corrections, count among the proponents of the financial argument for dumping the death penalty.

Los Angeles Times

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.