Save parks, not death penalty

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We ought to shut down the death penalty system rather than the state parks to save $140 million a year. That is how much we spend for death row lawyers and prison guards each year. It does not include trial costs and the cost of federal appeals. California has executed 13 prisoners since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. Sixteen prisoners have committed suicide, 43 have died of natural causes, Another died after a guard shot him, one had a heart attack after being sprayed with pepper spray, one died of a drug overdose, one died of acute drug toxicity and one got stabbed to death. Five of the 13 we executed volunteered. They would probably still be alive today if they had not volunteered. The Department of Corrections is building a new death row that will cost a billion dollars and hold 1,000 prisoners. That is $1 million for each cell. It is scheduled to be filled within a few years after completion. The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice gave this information in its June 2008 report. Life without parole is a good alternative. There are almost 4,000 LWOPs in the prison system. Since 1977 only seven have left the prison system and they had to prove their innocence to do it. Commutation would require the governor and four Supreme Court justices to agree. The death penalty needs to be abolished. PAUL W. COMISKEY, Newcastle