WSJ – Costs Test Backing For Death Penalty Some Former Supporters Say Capital Punishment Isn’t Worth Huge Sums Spent on Drawn-Out Cases; Californians to Vote


Opponents of the death penalty are finding some unlikely allies: tough-on-crime types concerned about its cost.

Some longtime supporters of the death penalty now think the punishment should be scrapped, even as they continue to see it as a just option in heinous crimes and as an effective deterrent. They are questioning whether the occasional execution is worth the taxpayer money spent on lengthy appeals and costly lawyers for inmates, especially at a time when state budgets are strained.


Emily Berl for The Wall Street JournalNinth Circuit Judge Arthur Alarcón, outside federal court in Los Angeles, says he is conflicted about the death penalty now, because of its costs.

This consideration is particularly keen in California, where a referendum to abolish the death penalty will appear on the ballot in November. Politicians in more conservative states also are taking another look at capital punishment, on cost grounds.

“I was a supporter and believer in the death penalty, but I’ve begun to see that this system doesn’t work and it isn’t functional,” said Gil Garcetti, a Democrat who served for eight years as district attorney in Los Angeles County, which is responsible for roughly one-third of California’s 727 death-row inmates. “It costs an obscene amount of money.”

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