CCATDP’s Charles Koch Institute Communications Intern, Katherine Dwyer, was born and raised in California, and she recently weighed in on the state’s competing death penalty-related ballot propositions. In her op-ed, she wrote,
With two death penalty propositions on the November ballot, Californians are reexamining capital punishment. For fiscal conservatives, it should be a simple matter of dollars and cents.
California’s death penalty has cost taxpayers over $4 billion since 1978, according to a 2011 study. Death penalty experts Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Professor Paula M. Mitchell estimate that “capital trials cost on average an additional $1 million more than non-capital cases,” and “often cost 10-20 times more than murder trials that don’t involve the death penalty.”
Let those numbers sink in. What have California’s taxpayers gotten for their $4 billion investment? Thirteen executions and three wrongful capital convictions. Meanwhile, the capital punishment system doesn’t adequately protect society and is a harmful and traumatic process for murder victims’ families.
According to Dwyer, the choice between the two propositions is simple:
The choice between these two propositions is clear—one will save California taxpayers millions of dollars each year, while the other will cost California taxpayers millions. To put this into real terms, the State’s independent Legislative Analyst determined Prop .62 will save $150 million annually. That’s $150 million a year that could be put to better use. That money could be returned to the taxpayers or it could be redirected into funding for education, public safety or crime prevention—all of which would positively impact far more lives than California’s current spending on the death penalty.