Monday, June 30, 2008

Death Penalty On Its Way Out?

A report issued Monday says California's death penalty, which has been in existence for 30 years, is "close to collapse."

The report ( says the state's death penalty costs more than $100 million annually to run. The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, appointed by the state Legislature to propose criminal justice reforms, released the 117-page report detailing major flaws in the death penalty system. Among the findings was that California has the biggest backlog of cases in the nation.

The commission stopped short of calling for the abolition of the state's death penalty, but did note that California would save millions of dollars throughout the criminal justice system if capital punishment were eliminated.

At the present, there are 673 inmates on California's death row and 79 inmates there are still in need of being appointed attorneys to prepare their automatic appeals to the California Supreme Court.

California, which takes on average about 17 years to execute someone who has been convicted, has executed 13 inmates since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1978, but none since 2005.

According to the report, "The families of murder victims are cruelly deluded into believing that justice will be delivered with finality during their lifetimes."

This will be the commission's final report, as it disbands Tuesday.

Editor's Take: We still believe in the death penalty and support it. We also say that there should not be on average a 17-year lag between conviction and execution. While everyone is certainly entitled to a fair trial and an automatic appeal, the time drawn out between conviction and execution is not only costly to the state, but harms the families of the victims who were killed. Let's make the system have more of an impact on the people it was intended for - the criminals.

So what do you think? Should the state abolish the death penalty?

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