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The LWOP Mask Slips Big Time

Kent had a post the other day about how an EPA official let on, when he had forgotten the camera was running, that the model for dealing with oil and gas companies was crucifixion. Due process did not appear to be in the mix.  It was more like the invading Roman army snatching the first five villagers and then......the unpleasantness commenced.

Mask-slipping moments are wonderful nuggets of truth, because that's when you find out what the other side really thinks.  Thus I bring you this one from my one-time debate partner, Professor David Dow, one of the country's leading death penalty abolitionists.   Prof. Dow argues that life without parole  --  the sentence the California referendum resolutely promises us will replace the death penalty in that state  --  is as bad or worse than capital punishment, and thus intolerable in a civilized country that has even a slight belief in redemption and forgiveness.

And where exactly does that leave us?


It leaves us with an easy guess as to what the real agenda is with this referendum.

Professor Dow merits unstinting praise for his honesty in letting us know a key fact California voters should bear in mind: That the moment the ink is dry on the death penalty repealer, with its solemn and politically essential promise that these killers will never see the outside of a prison again, a determined push will be underway to deep-six that pledge.

Not that this kind of bait-and-switch razzle-dazzle should come as any surprise. The whole abolitionist schtick is to feign concern for victims ("closure" and related quasi-psychobabble), plus, nowadays, a long speech about cost.  But the name of the game is the same as ever  -- to ensure that the killer gets as close to no punishment is possible. (This is one reason a standard line at sentencing is, "My client is not the same person who did that awful deed,"  --  ergo punish someone else).

Prof. Dow does not just California but the entire country a service by showing us what the real agenda is here, and it goes well beyond death penalty repeal. Voters should understand what's coming up next when they cast their ballots this November.  As Prof. Dow has tipped us off, it's already in the oven.


We have already seen it with the 17-year-old murderers. The soft-on-crime crowd in California very nearly succeeded last year in passing a bill to ensure there actually would be a possibility of parole for even the worst of the worst (though they did their best to disguise what they were doing). They are trying again this year.

Us pro death penalty types have been saying for a long long time, that if the anti dpers got their way, their next target was LWOP.

We were wrong.

They have been making their case against LWOP for a decade or more.

Dow's column is not surprise to anyone who has been following the anti dp and anti LWOP commentary, which are taking the same path.

Banning LWOP:

1) for juveniles
2)because it is cruel and unusual
3) because it costs too much
4) innocents have and will die while serving LWOP

Years ago, Sistser Prejean was excused from a jury wherein the case had a potential LWOP sentence.

Her statement was a version of "We can all change for the better, so I could not sentence someone to LWOP.

She forgot that some stay the same and some get worse, which is the history of death row, whereby 70% had been incarcerated before they committed the additional crimes that put them on death row.

Supporters of the death penalty and/or LWOP, on the other hand, would rather protect more innocents.

Dudley --

Spot on. But it's worth noting that the other side's war against LWOP is premature and therefore a strategic blunder our side should exploit.

One of the main rallying cries of the California referendum backers is that, under their plan, killers will never, ever get out of prison. When we show in bold relief that many of the people shouting this at the top of their lungs are also the most eager, and active, in the campaign to end LWOP as well, it will create tremendous damage to their cause.

First, it will show that the promise of no release ever is a phony, as is the public safety they implicitly promise will go along with it.

Second, it will show that their true motives lie in a continuous push to reduce punishment NO MATTER WHAT IT IS -- a push that stems from their worldview of criminal-as-victim.

Third, it will justifiably expose them as dishonest, and thus cast into doubt everything else they say, including the stuff about cost savings and requiring prisoners to work.

Kent and Bill:

Regarding costs.

I, completely, evicerated the OFFICIAL CCFAJ California death penalty cost review, below:

BTW, it took about an hour of fact checking

Has anyone done a fact check on the non-official $4 billion cost study, which it appears is the only one now referenced, even though it is not the OFFICIAL cost study.

Why has the CCFAJ study, seemingly, been abandoned by the press and the antis and, now, replaced by the unofficial $4 billion dollar study?

A Rebuttal to "Cut This: The Death Penalty"(1)
Death Penalty vs Life Costs in California
By Dudley Sharp, contact info below

Clark/CCFAJ's cost review is wildly inaccurate and I doubt that there is any more veracity to the death row costs than with their lifer cost evaluations. None of Clark/CCFAJ's numbers can be relied upon.

Clark says: "In total, California's death penalty system costs taxpayers $137 million per year. Contrast that with just $11 million per year if we replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment."

For 700 inmates, that is:

death penalty costs: $137 million per year or $196,000//inmate/yr.

life imprisonment costs: $11 million/year or $15,700/inmate/yr.

It is complete utter nonsense.

Some reality:

The last full California audit (Sept 2009) found the average costs, 2007-2008, per adult inmate was $49,000/inmate/yr. (2) In 1997, it was $25,000/inmate/yr. (3).

This $49,000/inmate/yr is the average for all inmates, not the level IV security of death row inmate like criminals that will cost more, if not much more. Clark is stating that these enhanced security prisoners will cost $34,000/inmate/yr LESS than the average cost for all Ca inmates. Clark's lack of credibility is of an astounding level. Clark's analysis is laughable.

But, Clark/CCFAJ get even worse.

Without the death penalty, Clark/CCFAJ's select group of former death row murderers would likely be in level IV security and, as lifers, would die as geriatric prisoners or from earlier illness, likely costing on average $80,000-$100,000/inmate/yr., or more, with a rare few costing a $1 million or more per year with illness and/or geriatric stages. Geriatric problems often begins at age 50 for inmates.

NOTE: The California Medical Facility for corrections averages $83,000/inmate/yr. (4). Add to that the additional costs of Level IV security cells.

But, for Clark/CCFAJ, former death row inmates, now lifers, cost $15,700/inmate/yr.

But, it gets even worse for Clark/CCFAJ.

Clark will admit, if prodded (5) that "the figure of $137 million estimates the entire cost of the death penalty system, not simply housing, but also inclusive of all post-conviction costs, including legal appeals."

In other words, Clark is admitting escalating the death penalty costs over the alleged cost comparisons of incarceration between lifers and death row. Not at all surprising Clark excludes such from the lifer costs.

The Clark/CCFAJ's cost comparisons/evaluations are a very bad joke. Instead of making an honest apples to apples cost comparison, Clark brings us an apples to Rolls Royce cost comparison, as if it is apples to apples.

Because so many of these cost comparisons are so pathetically unreliable, California considered that an objective assessment by RAND should be considered (6). The basis for a proper evaluation was presented, but Ca rejected doing the study.

CONCLUSION - Save even more money?

There is no need for California to have a death row. Current death row prisoners can be placed in Level IV security cells, or lower levels depending upon evaluations, just as Missouri and Kansas do.

California can make their death sentenced inmates cheaper than their lifers, if they properly manage their citizens money, as Virginia does. California must only have the will to be responsible stewards of their citizens resources - something that seems to elude California lawmakers, just as basic, accurate evaluations evade Clark/CCFAJ.

Today, there is no reason for Ca death row to cost more than level IV security and a proper evaluation would likely show death row cheaper or no more expensive than Level IV.

There would be no cost savings in getting rid of death row, with the exception that, if Calif had a responsible death penalty protocol, there would be many more executed murderers, thus reducing incarceration costs on death row, saving money on incarcerations costs over other level IV prisoners.

(1) An article by James Clark, field organizer, ACLU of Southern California.

(2) pg 77, fiscal year 2007-2008, http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-107.1.pdf

(3) www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/97125.pdf

(4) page 80, fiscal year 2007-2008, http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-107.1.pdf

(5) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clark/cut-this-the-death-penalt_b_627759.html

(6) "Investigating the Costs of the Death Penalty in California: Insights for Future Data Collection in California, RAND Corp., 2/2008

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