The Death Penalty is a Shameful Waste of Taxpayers' Money

Posted by Stefanie on July 1st, 2008
Chair of the California Commission, John Van De Kamp, at the press conference on June 30, 2008

A new report by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice has found that the death penalty costs California taxpayers $137 million dollars each year. This is a shameful waste of California's scarce public safety resources -- and our tax dollars.

The Commission concluded that replacing the death penalty with permanent imprisonment would save our state more than $125 million dollars each year.

This is money that could be spent on more effective violence prevention programs and other services that would actually make our communities safer, such child abuse prevention programs, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health care, education, and services for victims of crime. The death penalty is failed public policy, let's end the charade.

An op-ed by DPF Board Member Nancy Oliveira published in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday explored better uses for our tax dollars. It was accompanied by an excellent chart.

So did a KQED perspectives piece by Judy Kerr, CCV's Victim Liaison and Spokesperson.

Posted in Blog


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  1. Comment by baidu, May 7th, 2014 7:13pm

    nice article

  2. Comment by I.P., Mar 8th, 2013 6:15am

    Thanks for the information! The death penalty should be avoided at least in the US. I'm doing a argumentative essay and this helped a lot!

  3. Comment by Danielle , Feb 22nd, 2013 5:49am

    I agree 100%. im doing a pursuasive essay on the death penalty and this is perfect! thanks!

  4. Comment by wiseintelligence, May 20th, 2010 8:54am

    Mr. Irish guy...thats nice that you've researched the bible prior to you responding to this...but you must understand that what you quote doesn't mention "man" in those responsible for gods work. Romans 12:19-21 "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord..."...Yes there are references of consequences in the bible but as many do you're getting out of context of whats intended. By our nature revenge is...but by the righteous ways and walk revenge is for gods doing not ours...and I'm not even a relgious guy all that much but I know whats my responsibility and whats not on someones life champ... can argue what you want and point fingers at those who bring "god" into this but the man upstairs has much say in this "Death" Penalty as man. Sit and ask your self, A man mentally and/or spiritually sick commits a crime warranting punishment, granted, but to say he or she gets the death penalty?! I could care less but if you really think god said "okay, he raped and killed 5 people...kill'm...and i'll...kill'm again" I find that to be very stupid....your reference to the bible is no better than a muslim trying to justify that there is no words of revenge and war in their Qur'an thats been so much the debate these years...A man who committs a harsh crime should do his time here in the hardest of labors yet fed and clothed...because when his day of judgement and punishment comes by the man upstairs it will be sad day in time. death penalty is just too easy and a waste of tax payers money that could be used to solve our problems out here. It's funny how society is so @$$ backwards as to how to handle things in life...I don't care how many times you pray or go to church...the outcomes from societys cry's is the reflection of how screwed up we are as a people.

  5. Comment by Irish-Guy, Apr 8th, 2010 12:55pm

    For all those christians that say there is nothing in the bible that states that God doesn't support the death penalty is mistaken. It is all over the bible. In fact, here are some sciptures to prove it. =o) Enjoy!

    Genesis 9:6: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

    Exodus 21:12 says, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death."

    Revelation 13:10 says, "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.

    In Acts 25:11 the apostle Paul says, "For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar."

    Romans 13:1-4: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

    Deuteronomy 19:11-13: "But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee."

  6. Comment by Ashley, Feb 23rd, 2010 3:42pm

    Derek and Lady make valid arguments. However, think about this. By executing murderers, we are killing someone who killed someone to show that killing is wrong. How does that add up? Seems to me like the government is simply contradicting itself.

    Think about this:

    In Texas, 11 executions, dating up to 2004, have been conducted on innocent parties. In 1997, Illinois was forced to HALT executions because studies found that 52% of death row inmates were INNOCENT.

    The death penalty is not a proven crime-deterrent. Murder rates are actually HIGHER in states that administer the death penalty. And a killer is more likely to die at the hands of a "thug" then at the hands of the government. The only murders that death penalty unarguably prevent are those that the executed MAY have committed.

  7. Comment by Lady, May 11th, 2009 1:18pm

    the people who murder, rob etc. clearly do not believe in the value of human life and that god, or whomever you believe in, is the only one to create life and destroy it. if thy don't believe in the teachings, i.e. Thou shalt not kill, then they can't be protected by something they don't believe

  8. Comment by Derek, Mar 3rd, 2009 7:28pm

    wow the stuff i am reading makes me laugh in a way to read what people have to say, some of you even contradict youselves in your own post! Yea the bible does not say a life for a life but it is the basic concept behind saying an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. if i was a homeless person i would kill someone and just sit in jail the rest of my life.....think that has ever happened before? so the people who were wrongly taken away from this earth died for naught? that to me is wrong! think if one of your family members was murdered for no reason......then think about the guy that did it and how he is sitting in prison getting three meals a day, clothes on his back, and a place to lay his head down at night, yea they may be in jail for the rest of there life and you can say there life is taken away but is it really? they are still breathing while peoples loved ones are buried in the ground. just some food for thought.

  9. Comment by anthony lista, Jan 26th, 2009 2:23pm

    the death penalty is wrong. DON'T YOU PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO THE 8TH COMMANDMENT?! THOU SHALL NOT KILL so why are we killing people with the death penalty?! it is not right!!!!!so the person made a bad mistake and killed, or robed, ect,ect... but isn;t it wrong to kill them?!!! YEA! SO THINK ABOUT THAT!!!

  10. Comment by Carlos, Jan 5th, 2009 2:00pm

    Only God can determine what to do with a killer, so let send killers as soon as possible to be judged by God.

  11. Comment by shair, Jan 1st, 2009 6:41pm

    the death penalty is wrong...theres no where in the bible its say's"a life for a life"it's jus can sombody change or learn from there mistakes if there dead.and if the person is young and has no record of violence this should not even be brought up. because there young and young kids makes mistakes thats how you grown up and learn what lifes im not saying taking a life is the the to do .but why should this person get death but then again not no beating and let go...make them feel the pain of what they have done and let them learn a lesson,some kids are easy to be persaded and follwers and how do you know this person is never know it will to late to find out becase there dead now.lets throw the DEATH PENALTY out the window...its only the fare thing to do because if we say. you killed so,i be killed! were letting our childern know its ok and it's not.....give a chance...its a new year its time for some change.

  12. Comment by Tabala Rasa, Dec 3rd, 2008 12:55pm

    Well i hate the way they are doing it now it's inefficient.
    The jury are always bias or lead. they should come up with a less painful or completely painless way to kill that person. Unless the murder actually happened in court there is no way to tell if any person is 100% guilty or innocent. We don't need the wrong people dieing (especially dieing painfully)or locked up. For cases that go on too long you should just place them under watch but you don't have the right to keep someone who might be innocent. That person has only one life and you can mess it up.

    {If you kill someone without a mental problem or in self defense then there needs to be a punishment. But death shouldn't be the punishment if it wasn't planned. If you kill some one in a fight they should just lock you up for a while (maybe not even life since you only meant to hurt/scare the person) if you have a change of heart like it's 100% proven to be legitimate then you shouldn't be killed either)}

  13. Comment by Lily, Nov 10th, 2008 9:14am

    Im aganst killing killing people too and your hypohisis is right in a way.


  14. Comment by ashleigh, Nov 9th, 2008 8:55am

    Im sure that you try and teach people that killing is wrong but the examploe your setting is saying its ok if we kill people but its not for you. Also if you believe everyone who kills should be killed then eventually no- one would be left in this world because if a person murders someone then you belive they should be killed but the person who kills them would have to be killed, and then that person would be killed ect. so it would just snowball out of control. Isnt imprisonment enough?

  15. Comment by Emily, Oct 13th, 2008 7:14am

    I think that saving money should not have anything to do with the death penalty. if someone kills someone they do not deserve to continue breathing when the inocent person he killed is six feet under. The death penalty is about saving others lives because even if a killer is supposed to be locked in prison for life there is always the possiblity that they can escape not very likely but a possibility.

  16. Comment by lexie, Oct 12th, 2008 5:34pm

    Hi I am a teenager and I believe there should be no more death penalty not only because of tax payers money is being wasted because the people committing the crimes are getting off easy and not learning a lesson and also other people aren't learning from the mistakes made.

  17. Comment by anthony russ, Sep 21st, 2008 4:04am

    Hi from my perspective point of view, the whole country should stop the death penalty, you have plenty of money
    all the U.S. can do is pick a nice wide space in the hotest
    area and build a super maximum prison, escape proof, modern
    lockup doors, cameras that are hard to destroy and in a
    circle to watch every movement the prisoner does.

    Outside make a wall high enough to break the spirit of a
    convict in any planning of escape, make all the employees
    areas air conditioned, and the convicts not unless there
    had to be installed if there's a law suit against the prison, and all weight lifting gear should be stored to
    prevent a murder in prison, and the wall in top put enough
    razor wire to deter a planned escape too.

    Now, a life should not be taken away from anyone, if a person is in religion mode, they have to die, and when
    they are buried into the ground and a call from the Holy
    Spirit is not heard from that soul, he has been judge and
    can't be with the other souls that didn't take anothers
    life, that man or woman will be judge after death and he
    or her confined in custody for the rest of there natural
    life, all the redemption and turning around and be religious, well the action has been done if convicted
    and everything has been proved, well when judgement time
    comes near, that soul is finish when he or she don't hear
    the call from up above.

    So confine the person who did the deed and let him or she
    spend the rest of their life without any chance of getting
    out, in other words at the Govenor pleasure.

    This is my idea, and it would in some way prevent others
    from taking another ones life.

  18. Comment by Amber, Sep 8th, 2008 8:08am

    it shouldn't be about saving money. it should be about saving lives. nothing should give reason to take a life no matter what the cause.

  19. Comment by Bernard Spiegeleer, Aug 29th, 2008 4:50am

    it seems that this is a good argument against death penalty in a society where human values are on sale !
    The main thing is too save money, right ?
    what a dream...


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