And yet another study pointing out what we all already know:
At 678, California has the nation’s largest death row population, yet the state has not executed anyone in four years.
But it spends more than $130 million a year on its capital punishment system — housing and prosecuting inmates and coping with an appellate system that has kept some convicted killers waiting for an execution date since the late 1970s.
This is according to a new report that concludes that states are wasting millions on an inefficient death penalty system, diverting scarce funds from other anti-crime and law enforcement programs.
“Thirty-five states still retain the death penalty, but fewer and fewer executions are taking place every year,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “But the overall death row population has remained relatively steady. At a time of budget shortfalls nationwide, the death penalty is turning into an expensive form of life without parole.”
I just don’t think the folks at the Death Penalty Information Center understand how important it is to some people to be allowed to kill. It is such a priority in manly Texas that sometimes they kill innocent people for the hell of it.
The Death Penalty Information Center are obviously pro-escaped mass murderers/rapists in neighborhoods. What they really need to do is propose a mass reform of the Death Penalty system to be more like Texas. After all, who cares if a few dozen folk were railroaded and will be executed by mistake? All a sacrifice we should be willing to make to satisfy brutal justice!!
Of course, they need to include in the list of capital offenses druggies, hippies, jaywalkers and Greenpeace. That’ll really clean up the streets.
/end heavy, obvious snark.
Leelee for Obama
Just from this aspect, you would thinkthat conservatives would want to abolish the Death Penalty. If they get Life w/o Parole and forced labor-they can actually help defray the costs of their incarceration and the State wouldn’t be committing sanctioned homicide. I’d call that a win.
To say nothing of the fact that if the Lifer is later proven innocent, they can do more than look at their shuffling feet during the announcement, or Like Gov. Good Hair, turn the outrage up to eleventy-five.
John, one of the reasons I love you is that you can say in a few short sentences what it takes me a whole page to express.
And the mentally-challenged, John. Don’t forget them.
@Leelee for Obama: Yes, you would think so, except that there’s really nothing conservative about today’s “conservatives.”
@Leelee for Obama:
There’s a miscalculation in your plans though, Leelee.
You forget that there are only 2 truly worthy government funded industries that most conservatives support and would cry ‘treason’ over if funding was cut.
One is the military.
The other is the prison-industrial complex.
After all, we have to have SOMEplace to house all those goddamn druggies and vicious illegals Lou Dobbs warns us about.
I’m tempted to make a joke about our current crop of conservatives and the mentally challenged, but I don’t want to insult the mentally challenged by comparison.
You now it’s not just the GOP. 34% is still happy to continue DP even if innocent people get caught up and that’s at least 14% more than will admit to being Republicans!
Indeed, the obvious solution is to streamline the appeals process so that we have a death penalty express lane. 12 appeals or fewer. The alternative is just unthinkable.
Leelee for Obama
@Ash Can: @Kryptik: Yeah, I know I’m howling in the wilderness, but I’m honing my skills for debates in public, when I’m finally out and about more.
As to the Military-I still think we should make them run bake-sales for bombs and give the tax money to education and homeless shelters, and health care. Yeah, Liberal, that’s me. Proud as hell of it. too. Also.
Back the truck up.
I’m as anti-death-penalty as they come, but if we did away with the death penalty, we would STILL have to house and prosecute inmates, and deal with appeals. Those costs wouldn’t go to 0.
Is the $130M/year number above and beyond the cost for life imprisonment? Or is it the absolute cost of the system? I’m not seeing the answer to that question in the link. (and the wording of the article makes it sound like $130M/year is the absolute cost of dealing with the 678 inmates on death row)
It sounds like the real cost that needs to be discussed is $130M/year – (cost of dealing with 678 lifers)
Honesty. It makes your argument stronger, not weaker.
Oh, come on, John. If they aren’t guilty of that crime, they’re guilty of something else. Besides, it’s not important who pays for the crime, it’s just important that someone pays for the crime. In the macro sense, it’s all a wash. Also.
General Winfield Stuck
Here is a morbid history on botched executions for some light Tuesday morn reading.
I’m not sure any public policy should be decided because the side against it simply makes it too expensive.
Cain’t u yankees leeve us ‘lone down hear in TEXAS?
We’s havin a hurd time, the Cowboys suck, the librul meedia is bein mean to Gov. Goodhair, we’s had a drout (God don’ liek us).
If God hadn’t been in favur o the deaf penalty, why’d he invent potassiem cloride and lectric chairs?
Farther down in the article that John linked to, it says that:
I think a better figure than the cost per state per year would be the additional cost per capita, which I could work out if I weren’t trying to get something done in the lab.
@MBunge: Any port in a storm. The moral argument sure as hell hasn’t made any inroads on the bloody-minded.
Sure it’s expensive. But we get to kill people!
When George Ryan moved everyone off death row in Illinois the news stories about the convictions were shocking. Some had been convicted to death based on no physical evidence at all, just the testimony of one unreliable witness. Unreliable meaning the witness later recanted.
A relative who had always been in favor of the death penalty changed his mind after seeing those stories.
The death penalty can only be justified if we can be 100% sure of guilt, and we can never be 100% sure.
@joes527: Non-capital cases do not go through the microscopic review in the court system that capital cases get. Every nuance of every word in every document is litigated. I spent over 2 years as law clerk in federal court dealing primarily with habeas corpus cases. We had one clerk who only worked on capital cases. Things are litigated and relitigated at the state and federal levels. This does not happen to the same extent in non-capital cases.*
* None of this is necessarily valid in Texas.
Well now see there’s the problem. While it might be considered frenchy, there could be ISO standards that could be applied to address inefficiency, and have solid quality control.
Man alive. California is gutting their educational system so they can afford to kill people who are safely locked up behind bars. Crazy.
The money still gets spent in Texas. Doesn’t mean they’re doing any of the actual microscopic reviewing that might happen in other states. Lawyers still get paid. Law clerks get paid. Judges get paid – and paid off. The money still gets spent.
That, of course, is not the point. The point is that a lot of states are now treating prisoners AS IF they’re going to execute them, with expensive death row populations and expensive capital appeals, but then they’re not actually executing them, so it’s just a highly inefficient way to achieve life without parole. If the states aren’t actually interested in executing people, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a parallel, more expensive capital system. Just do away with it if you’re not even going to use it. Of course, it is another port in a storm for death penalty opponents, but the expense itself is not being used as an argument against the death penalty, only death penalties that are pretty much theoretical. *Note: offer not valid in Texas.*
It costs that much money for electricity hooked up to a chair?
Let’s all go Utah-style and do firing squads. Bulletz are teh cheep.
@Violet: I am really only familiar with what happens at the federal level, and I am sure that the microscopic review is taking place there. The real problem is that federal courts are quite limited in the scope of review in a habeas case. This means that certain things that happen in a state court are untouchable in federal court. I could go on and on for pages about this, but I will restrain myself.
Easy. Kill faster and more efficiently. Let the private sector handle what government bureaucrats cannot. Everyone knows that the government cannot run anything. Just look at the DMV and the Post Office. Also Canada and Great Britain. Duh, it’s called “freedom,” and it isn’t free. Moreover, support the troops.
In some cases, of course we can be sure of guilt. Howard (“I’d have killed a thousand, if I’d had bullets enough”) Unruh , the father of modern spree killers in the United States comes to mind. That doesn’t justify the death penalty, though, unless vengeance is considered to be a good thing. Any other argument for the death penalty (ie, it’s a deterrent, it’s less expensive that life imprisonment) is usually demonstratively false.
Iirc, about 15 years ago I read a piece in The Nation (I think) which reported that a study of more than 60% Murkins favored capital punishment, and of those more than 75% would support it even with irrebuttable evidence that innocent citizens had been falsely accused and unjustly executed.
This is a fucked-up country…
Leelee for Obama
@woody: Yeah, we are sometimes only a few steps from our Neanderthal forbears. It’s the kind of study that makes me feel despair. How hard would it be to convince that percentage of citizens that executing fellow citizens with whom they disagree would be a patriotic thing to do? Makes the Nazi enablers easier to understand, doesn’t it?
Some Death Panels are more equal than others.
@Pangloss: you. win.
General Winfield Stuck
It is the perfect punishment, in that if a mistake is made it is made completely and without means to make acceptable amends to correct the injustice. Dead is dead and can’t be taken back. A perfect punishment that demands perfect adjudication, which doesn’t exist, It is why I’m against the death penalty on principle, though some executions of some people doesn’t bother me personally in the least.
Grumpy Code Monkey
And that’s the argument that burns me up the most from those assholes. “Well, he was surely guilty of something…” Like another capital crime, something that actually justifies the death penalty, maybe?
I mean, if that’s going to be the argument, let’s at least be honest and expand the definition of “capital crime” to cover anything more severe than jaywalking.
There’s a lot I love about my state, really, but this is one element that constantly dismays and disappoints me. I was looking forward to Perry having his first real primary challenge since taking office from that fucking, smirking, codpiece-wearing shitbag, but Kay recently released a statement showing that she’s just as barbaric as the rest of them, if not more so. I just want to collectively grab the state by the shirt and slap some sense into it.
The Grand Panjandrum
If more people like Dick Cheney were subject to it for war crimes I probably would feel better about it. But that isn’t the case.
You forgot ACORN!
@Grumpy Code Monkey: That’s Lord Vetenari’s rationale for capital punishment, and who’s to argue with Lord Vetenari? Also, mimes and scorpion pits, you betcha.
Fixited for you.
I look forward to the day when more crimes are added to the list of executable offenses! Cruel & unusual? Not anymore!
No, from this aspect, I would more expect people to reply that we should limit the appeals process and expedite executions faster, and the whole thing costs so much cause the sissy liberals are wasting time trying to get the guilty off on technicalities.
I guess if I trusted the government completely when it came to legal issues, I would feel the same way.
I have a family member that works in the court system for CA death penalty cases. Due to budget problems, he’s had his hours (and thus pay) cut significantly this past year. He was complaining about it and then admitted frankly, “then again, everything we do is pointless and if the state was serious about saving money, they should just scrap this whole process since we waste so much time and money on death penalty cases for people we know will never be executed anyway.”
An executing society is a polite society, bitches!
Hole in one, John. Yeah, the assholes pushing the death penalty get a stiffie from the whole notion of killing some poor bastard (ever noticed that it’s never some RICH bastard getting executed? Huh!). Meanwhile, California is gutting their schools and universities to fund this bullshit. And some people say cats are vicious, meow?
Vetinari’s rationale, stated repeatedly in the Discworld books, is more “One man, one vote.” He’s the Man, so he gets to vote.
You’re completely right about the mimes and scorpion pits.
Quoted for Truth! For a lot of supposedly Modern Americans, the bedrock of the pro-death-penalty arguments is that if “we” don’t kill people, how will anyone — other Americans, the rest of the world, Talibangelical Jeebus — know that we’re serious about our moral code?
There are no accidents in America, only crimes that have yet to be punished. This is the real meaning of the conservatives’ beloved “American Exceptionalism”.
Existing inside me is a trigger that says if injustice occurs, then justice must be avenged. The natural state of the world is just and those who corrupt justice must be punished.
This trigger is not in my head or my heart but in my gut.
When that injustice happens to me, avenge becomes revenge. It becomes personal.
The role of the State is to offer an alternative to me taking direct action regarding my revenge. Giving the State this authority over my affairs produces three benefits: 1. there will be an accuser and a defender to ensure that the general public knows the grievance and the accused has an opportunity to defend himself 2. the families and friends of the accused do not take revenge against me 3. the process will be consistently applied which means that if the shoe is on the other foot, I have rights and protection afforded to me.
However, if the State does not punish sufficiently in my opinion, I have given authority to others and not received a benefit. Another injustice.
I support the death penalty for intentional murders when the perpetrator will more likley than not commit this offense again under the same or similar circumstances. I do not support the death penalty for other criminal circumstances that lead to death.
Grumpy Code Monkey
The problem isn’t whether or not there are crimes that merit the death penalty (FWIW, I agree that there are). The problem is that the American criminal justice system cannot guarantee that only the people actually guilty of the crime will be executed. The Willingham case in Texas has demonstrated that we are perfectly willing execute people who haven’t actually committed a crime in the first place (and are willing to fudge the case to secure a conviction so we can show that we’re “tough on crime”, especially non-existant crime).
I’d let people like Bundy or McVeigh live out their natural lives in prison rather than risk executing an innocent man. Given that it’s pretty certain that we’ve done that at least once, and given the number of death row inmates who have been exonerated after reviewing the evidence against them, it’s pretty clear that the death penalty needs to be abolished in Texas and across the country.
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
I think we’ve got room for a win-win here.
If we criminalize involvement (on the state side) in a capital case in which the defendant is later cleared, we can provide incentives to arrest and prosecute the actual perpertrator(s) of capital crimes, AND provide for a steady stream of capital defendants to execute*.
*This assumes that the crimes charged for arresting, investigating, prosecuting, sentencing, incarcerating, approving(as Perry did), and executing the not-guilty will be capital in nature. And that attempts to subvert, derail or otherwise interfered with cases against state agents would likewise be capital crimes.
Furthermore, the trial and appellate processes should be sharply curtailed for such defendants, which I think would be acceptable to death penalty advocates who have spent decades complaining about criminals being able to postpone or evade their just punishment by appeals.
It would also help with unemployment, as the offices of various state agents will need to be filled shortly after the arrest of prior occupants. In some cases, so that the new occupant may preside over the trial of the old.
And when texassholes are denied their # of flesh, they Drive Badly… especially in Jasper,,,
(comments not read)
housing the real bad asses is ALWAYS going to be expensive. the problem is all the not-bad asses that are locked up with them, that are of no danger to the community in any physical way, i e the soft drug population.