I am pro resolution in regards to the death penalty in California. The main reasons why I am against it is because of the high costs and that it is racially biased. Many statistics have shown that the death penalty is not a deterrent of crime, yet these same statistics clearly demonstrate that the death penalty is very expensive to follow through with and definitely shows signs of racial biased.
In 2005 Los Angeles Times Study finds California spends $250 Million per execution. To house an inmate on death row, California spends $90,000 more a year per inmate then in the general prison population, or $57.5 million annually. With the 11 executions spread over 27 years, on a per execution basis, California and federal taxpayers have paid more than $250 million dollars for each execution. Spending this amount of money on a deterrent that does not deter means this money cannot be used for preventative programs that actually work. We have less less police officers in the streets, less intervention programs, and less rehabilitation programs because the money is being wasted on this failed deterrent. The money The Attorney General devotes to death penalty cases is about 15% of his budget. This is money that could be funneled into programs that work.
Capitol punishment in California, as in every other state is more expensive that a life imprisonment sentence without the opportunity for parole. This high cost is not due to frivolous appeals but rather the result of Constitutionally mandated safeguards that can be summarized as follows:
Juries must must be given clear guidelines on sentencing, with the result of explicit provisions for what constitutes and mitigating circumstances.
Defendants must have dual trial—one to establish guilt or innocence and if guilty a second trial to determine whether or not they would get the death penalty.
Defendants sentenced to death are granted oversight protection in an automatic appeal to the state supreme court.
A study done by the Sacramento Bee suggests that California would save $90million per year if it were to abolish the death penalty.
$78 million of these expenses are occurred at the trial level and would not be reduced by shortening appeals.
Not only does the death penalty's cost is high, it is also racially biased. The death penalty does not single out the worst offenders, it arbitrarily selects a group based on such irrational factors as the quality of the defense counsel, the country in which the crime was committed, or the race of the defendant or victim.
Almost all the the defendants facing the death penalty cannot afford their own attorney, so they are dependent on the quality of the lawyers assigned by the state, many of whom lack experience in capital cases or are underpaid so much that they fail to investigate the case properly. A poorly represented defendant is much more likely to be convicted and given a death sentence.
Studies have shown repeatedly shown that a death sentence is far more likely where a white person is murdered than where an African American was murdered. The death penalty creates a conflict because it appears to count white lives as more valuable than African Americans. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 202 African American defendants have been executed for the murder of a white victim, while only 12 white defendants have been executed for the murder of an African American. Such racial contrasts have existed over the history of the death penalty and appear to be largely difficult to handle.
It is arbitrary when someone in one country or state receives the death penalty, but someone who commits a comparable crime in another country or state is given life sentence. Prosecutors have enormous discretion about when to seek the death penalty and when to settle for a plea bargain. Often those who can only afford a minimal defense are selected for the death penalty. Until race and other arbitrary factors, like economics and geography, can be eliminated as a determinant on who lives and who dies.
Therefore the death penalty should be illegal in California because of the enormous costs for the execution and that it is racially biased against certain ethnic groups. And as Henry Ford says “Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty.”