Death penalty costs sky-high

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Federal judge Arthur Alarcon and Loyola law professor Paula Mitchell have completed a three-year study of the cost of the California death penalty. Californians have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since 1978 or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions. Added costs for capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation of the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year. Cost for maintaining the death penalty will climb to $9 billion by 2030 when death row will have swollen to over 1,000. The findings will be published next week in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. Among their findings are: the state’s 714 death row prisoners cost $184 million more per year than those sentenced to life without parole, a death penalty prosecution costs 20 times as much as (life without parole), the least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more than the most expensive (life without parole) case, jury selection runs three to four weeks longer and costs $200,000 more than an LWOP case, the state spends up to $300,000 to represent each capital inmate on appeal,the heightened costs of incarcerating death row prisoners cost an additional $100,663 per inmate for a total of $72 million. Since 1978, 92 death row prisoners have died but only 13 were executed. Fifty-four died of natural causes, 18 by suicide and six by prison violence. The California death penalty is a bloated, ineffective, bureaucratic system that needs to be abolished. Paul W. Comiskey, Newcastle