The Orange County Register
June 25th, 2011, 10:42 am by Teri Sforza, Register staff writerCapital punishment’s supporters say death is a strong deterrent to crime.
Capital punishment’s detractors say it’s barbaric, and a colossal waste of money.
New ammunition to decide who is right comes in a new study titled “Executing the Will of the Voters? A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature’s Death Penalty Debacle. ”
The study’s authors come from both sides of the debate: U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon has prosecuted death penalty cases, and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell argues against them
They both agree that the system in California is horribly broken, and in dire need of reform.
“Since reinstating the death penalty in 1978, California taxpayers have spent roughly $4 billion to fund a dysfunctional death penalty system that has carried out no more than 13 executions,” they say. ” The current backlog of death penalty cases is so severe that most of the 714 prisoners now on death row will wait well over 20 years before their cases are resolved. Many of these condemned inmates will thus languish on death row for decades, only to die of natural causes while still waiting for their cases to be resolved.
“Despite numerous warnings of the deterioration of California’s capital punishment system and its now imminent collapse, the Legislature has repeatedly failed to enact measures that would improve this death row deadlock. At the same time, voters have continued to expand the death penalty through the direct voter initiative process to increase the number of death-eligible crimes.”
The authors execute a rather exhaustive examination of state, federal and local spending on death penalty cases. The price tag will climb to $9 billion by 2030, the study says, when more than 1,000 people will be awaiting death at San Quentin.
Read the entire study in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review here.