California’s Money Pit: Death Row

The Death Penalty Information Center discusses two reports released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California on the high costs of California’s death penalty system. The article is here. The first report, The Hidden Death Tax, is here. The second report, Death by Geography, is here. Some highlights:

Capital trials cost counties at least $1.1 million more than non-capital murder trials

California spends an additional $117 million a year pursuing the execution of those already on death row

One trial alone cost California $10.9 million

The $22 million spent on 20 death penalty trials per year could pay for the salaries of 358 police officers or 395 experienced teachers

Executing all of the people on death row will cost California an estimated $4 billion more than if they were all sentenced to die in prison of disease, injury or old age

This begs the question…what’s the benefit to California’s system? Countless studies have proven it’s not deterrence. Maybe satisfaction? And at what cost is that justified?