California execution costs top $308 million each




Each of the 13 executions California has carried out since reinstating capital punishment in 1978 has cost taxpayers about $308 million, a study says.

The study, conducted by a senior judge and a law professor, determined California taxpayers have spent $4 billion since capital punishment was reinstated and estimates the cost to maintain the death penalty will jump to $9 billion by 2030 when the number of inmates awaiting execution at San Quentin will have increased to more than 1,000.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday the study’s authors examined state, local and federal expenditures for capital cases in a three-year period. The study’s authors are 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Loyola Law School Professor Paula M. Mitchell.

The study’s authors also said of 92 death row inmates who died since 1978, only 13 were executed in California. One was executed in Missouri, 54 died of natural causes, 18 committed suicide and six others died from inmate violence or other causes.

Endless appeals can drag a death penalty case out for years, adding to the cost.

The study said federal judges find problems with as much as 70 percent of the California death row prisoners’ convictions and send them back to trial court for further proceedings.

Additionally, the report said the Legislative Analyst’s Office didn’t properly assess and disclose to the public what 30 years of tough crime laws actually costs.

Among the findings to be published next week in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review: California pays as much as $300,000 in attorney fees to represent each capital inmate on appeal, a death penalty prosecution costs as much as 20 times as much as a life-without-parole case and the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more than the most expensive life-without-parole case.


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