Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

California Should Just Do Away With The Death Penalty

To me the death penalty is not about vengeance. It is a tool that some societies use to maintain order and protect the public. However, for the death penalty to do any good as a deterrent it needs to be carried out in a reasonable time frame. Throughout the United States the deterrent effect has been minimized by an overly abused appeals process that stretches out over decades and makes a mockery of the legal system. In California which falls under the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the worst abuses have occurred. Here is a story of a murderer who has been on death row in California since 1982! His case is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for the THIRD TIME! Some statistics from the article:
California has by far the largest death row in the nation, with 685 inmates. Yet only 13 condemned prisoners have been executed since capital punishment was restored in 1977, far fewer than the 38 death row inmates who have died of natural causes.

By contrast, Texas has carried out 441 executions during the same period, and has 358 inmates on death row. Virginia has executed 103 people during that time and has only 18 inmates serving death sentences. Among them is John Allen Muhammad, who is scheduled to die Nov. 10 for one of the deadly sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington area in the fall of 2002.
So, if as I said in the first paragraph, the death penalty is a tool for society then what we have in California is a state that keeps buying a tool it doesn't know how to use. What do I mean by saying they keep buying that tool (death penalty)? Well, each time the punishment is awarded the automatic appeals process costs millions of dollars.
Last year, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice called the state's death penalty system "broken" and "dysfunctional," and estimated it costs the state $137 million a year.
So as currently set up, the death penalty in California is just a busy work program to keep lawyers employed on the government dime (and it's a lot of dimes at that). 137 million dollars may not solve California's budget problems, but giving that money to defense lawyers to argue frivolous appeals isn't helping the bottom line either.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home


View My Stats