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Study Considers Cost of California’s Death Penalty

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The gurney inside the lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. (CBS)

The gurney inside the lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. (CBS)

TimRyan20100909_KCBS_0232r Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan graduated from CSU Chico with a Journalism degree and work...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A report released Monday tallies the cost of carrying out an execution in California, suggesting that the financial impact to California taxpayers since capital punishment was reinstated in the state is in the neighborhood $4 billion.

The study authors, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Alarcon and Loyola Law School Professor Paula Mitchell, considered all costs associated with capital punishment, including state, local and federal expenditures for the cases, in addition to what often amounts to a seemingly endless cycle of appeals in a death penalty case.

“There are folks who oppose the death penalty who don’t really want things fixed,” reasoned Ohio State professor Douglas Berman. “In their view it’s not a system worth trying to fix. And then there are others who, even if they want the system fixed, are troubled by the price tag.”

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

California has executed 13 prisoners since 1978.

Does this study give any weight to a discussion about whether California should even have a death row?

“Well, we’re going to,” responded KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier. “I mean, we can sit around and talk about the costs of it one way or another but the voters have spoken and repeatedly spoken and while support for the death penalty, you know, isn’t as strong as it once was, it’s still got politicians in Sacramento strong enough to say we’re going to keep right on going with this even if it does cost a lot.”

“In California, everything costs more,” Matier reasoned. “I mean, when you look at the cost of these death penalty cases compared to other states and the time it takes to go all the way through the courts, up to 25 years, that’s California for you.”

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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