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The Muddled Cost Argument Against the Death Penalty

Jazmine Ulloa that this post on the LA Times site reviewing the muddled debate over costs of the death penalty.  Experts disagree over how much money could be saved by repealing and how much could be saved by reforming.  No one disagrees that the status quo wastes money. 

I don't much care for the headline, which asks, "Will ending the death penalty save California more money than speeding up executions?"  (Headlines are generally written by editors, not the reporters who write the text of the story.)  Whether the reform initiative would save more than the repeal initiative is not the point.  The point is that the notion that there will be huge savings from repeal, freeing up large sums for other purposes, is a mirage.  The guy pictured holding a sign that says, "The death penalty is killing California's budget" is seriously misinformed.  The claim that California spent $5 billion dollars for 13 executions was found "mostly false" by PolitiFact, which is certainly no friend to conservative causes.

The net cost difference between repeal and reform, whichever way it goes, is a drop in California's enormous budget bucket.  Cost is no reason to deny justice in the very worst murder cases.

The choice between 62 and 66 should depend on the voter's view of justice.  The proponents of 62 like to talk up inflated numbers on cost because they know they can't win on justice.

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