Presently, there are nearly 750 inmates housed in California’s Death Row at San Quentin Prison, north of San Francisco. Those Death Row Inmates, because of the punishment that was handed down to them, are afforded some pretty nice, and unexpected, perks. Among the perks of Death Row are:
-A Publically Financed Appeal system, that given the current state of California executions, could go on, virtually for the life of the inmate, with each Attorney for the prisoner billing the State of California upwards of $300/hour for legal services.
-San Quentin Death Row inmates live in single cells that different than the two bunk regular cell, which is found in many Maximum security facilities. They have better access to both Telephones, and Cell Phones –according to sources within the prison system. They have about the only private accommodations in the state’s 30+ prison network, which today is crammed with over 165,000 inmates.
-Death Row Inmates are served three hot meals a day, in their cells, they can usually all mingle with others in outdoor exercise yards, they are provided snacks, and have exclusive control over the Television, CD player, or other diversions in their cells. Those on Death Row are also allowed nearly unlimited access to cell phones to communicate with their appeal attorneys to, talk about appeal strategy; Legal work all billed out to the State.
In short, Death Row Inmates costs the State of California about $138,000./per inmate/per year. A Normal Life without the possibility of parole inmate costs the State of California around $54,000./year to secure/house/feed/maintain.
My proposal is a simple one. In the interests of Death Penalty advocates, (of which there are many) State wide, Let us propose a new level of incarceration. “Condemned to Die in Prison” (CDP). This would be the new title for all prisoners that are serving consecutive life sentences and Life –without the possibility of parole-, and those that are currently under sentence of Death. All CDP Prisoners will be housed in the general population.
You are reading that correctly. A Republican, running for the State Legislature, wants to abolish the Death Penalty in the state of California. Many people throughout the years have made impassioned pleas for the abolition of Capital Punishment. These almost always center on an argument of Cruel and Unusual Punishment. My issue with it is two-fold: the cost associated with Death Row and the possibility that, if The State of California ever actually brings the Death Penalty back from its current moratorium, an inmate could be put to death and later be exonerated of their crime.
Under the current system that has been in place since 1978 the state has executed 13 prisoners. Another 83 have died while awaiting execution. Currently there are 743 prisoners under of sentence of Death in California. Under my new plan the state of California will see an annual cost savings of over $60 Million.
No possibility of Parole, and no Death Penalty either. A prisoner “condemned to die in prison” will never be able to return to society. Not one of the prisoner’s victims will ever need to worry about that. However the costs of legal assistance, housing, securing, and maintaining the prisoner will drop significantly.
According to a 2014 LA Times article on the matter; When you take into the account the state invests around $9,000/student K-12 annually for their educational needs, and the same State invests anywhere from $54,000-$138,000, annually depending entirely on their sentencing, the choice is an easy one to make!
Still, the abolition of the Death Penalty in California is a tricky issue since it was passed by the voters, in 1978, via the voter-initiative process. As such, it would require a vote of the people to repeal. If elected I will work to get a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot in my first term in office to abolish the Death Penalty in the State of California and save our state over $60 Million dollars per year. At that point, I will put this issue to a vote of the People of the State of California, that way they can have a hand in how their Government saves money, instead of spends it.