SHORT COMMUNICATION 375
Dysfunction in Progress
The dysfunction on a daily in the state of California is unimaginable. And one the most expansive dysfunctions is the California prison system. Is that a surprise? No, not really. Since 1978, closed to 800 inmates have been sent to death row by juries. Since 1978, California has executed only 13 inmates. That tells a story.
The death penalty was buried deeper in 2006. Since then, California’s lethal-injection protocol has been on hold, when U. S. District Jude Jeremy Fogel stayed the execution of convicted rapist/murder Michel Morales, lest Morales suffer any pain. Death row inmates are now likelier to kill themselves than they are to be executed, and so far, 78 inmates have also died from natural causes or violence.
Since 1978, the cost of the death penalty is estimated to be $4 billion dollars. That mean California’s taxpayers have paid that much since 1978 to administer the death penalty in California, and there are have been only 13 executed inmates since 1978. When you divide 4 billion by 13, you find that an execution cost on average $308 million dollars each. That is hard to imagine but it is so true. In 2009 the death penalty cost Californians $184 million dollars.
The small number of executions since 1978 and the unbelievable high cost of each one is great victory for the opponents of the death penalty. They have been pushing an end to it. Opponents consider California’s death penalty an expensive failure and an ideal example of the dysfunction of the state prison system. California’s death row is the largest and most costly in the United States. The 1978 death penalty law inspires frivolous appeals that clog courts, delays punishment, and burns through taxpayers’ dollars. It is really a certain black eye on the face of California’s politics.
It all boils down to the fact that many boneheaded rulings by federal judges has spawned dysfunction in the California prison system that is irreversible. What is the next political argument? Is it going to be that life without parole is too expensive?