Recently, Geraldo Rivera hosted a one-hour report marking the ten year anniversary of Scott Peterson’s incarceration on death row at San Quentin for the double murder of his wife Laci, and unborn son. During the special, Geraldo interviewed Nancy Mullane, who states she is “one of the few outsiders to see Peterson’s life inside San Quentin. She went on to comment that he is living a very cushy lifestyle at this prison. She authored the book, “Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption;” and, she claims Peterson has no redemption for his crimes.
Imagine having a death sentence, such as Scott Peterson’s, hanging (no pun intended) over your head for ten years. The punishment is either:
2) Extremely severe
5) All of the above
At least, that’s what an average person would conclude. However, this extended type of punishment may be justified. I wonder if the words, “any day now” become the inmate’s watchwords.
Last Execution in California
But there is more to this scenario. “California has not seen an execution for nearly a decade and, with an anticipated 20 new arrivals per year, the largest execution system in the U.S. has run out of room,” according to an article posted online by LA Times writer Kevin McSpadden, Relief is in sight. California’s Governor, Jerry Brown wants to increase jail cells at San Quentin by 97 to accommodate more inmates, because of these recent statistics. He plans to use those cells vacated by the newest voter’s approval – Proposition 47 that reclassified the most non-violent drug crimes to simple misdemeanors.
But wait, this expansion will cost $3.2 million in special funding. What? The jail cells are already in place. I think I am confused. Did I think upon first reading this article, the money was for an expansion of cells “at the cost of $3.2 million dollars?” No, I was wrong. Why will it cost this much money if the cells are already in place? Politics? Bureaucracy? The embroilment on death row continues. Read on. On July 16, 2014 an Orange County Federal Judge, the Honorable Cormac J. Carney “deemed the state’s death penalty to be unconstitutional.” Did I read that correctly? Regarding this temporary solution – the expansion, according to Terry Thorton, spokesperson for the correction-department, who says, “until the litigation is resolved, this cost-effective proposal allows [the state corrections department] to safely house condemned going forward.”
Cost of Housing a Death Row Inmate
Currently, San Quentin houses 708 condemned prisoners. The prison has 715 available cells – that’s seven open cells. The department plans to have 20 new inmates enroll at the prison for higher crimes, aka San Quentin. Therefore, my math shows there will be 13 new death row inmates playing Chinese fire drill for beds at the state prison. That is unless 13 already condemned prisoners expire from old age or disease this year. Those natural death statistics for San Quentin are currently unavailable.
Let’s return to the 97 extra cells that may become available – providing the $3.2 million dollars in special funding occurs. If it occurs, the state of California will have about five years (20 new inmates divided by 97 = @5 years) to house future condemned prisoners. This is in addition to the cost of housing a death row inmate, which is $90,000 per year. Wow! Imagine what an average person could do with an income of $90,000 per year – just to put the cost in perspective. To further muck up the works, judge’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the death penalty has placed a hold on all executions, so the cost will continue to escalate. Congratulations Scott Peterson on your pending stay of execution!
One more fact about the death penalty; it is a bargaining chip. For instance, the death penalty applies to capital punishment crimes – only. However, a death penalty may be used as a tool used to coerce accomplices to confess whereby avoiding the death penalty themselves. It is also used to find those missing person assumed dead per the criminals on trial. Then, there are the never-ending years of appeals that will continue to overt execution dates.
More California Costs
And last, here are some more figures to consider, according to the website article, “The
High Cost of the Death Penalty.”
1) “Annual cost of present (death penalty) system to be $137 million per year.”
2) Additional “cost of the present system with reforms recommended by the Commission to ensure a fair process would be $232.7 million per year.”
3) “The cost of a system in which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year.
What a contrast in costs that will be absorbed to the tax payers in the state of California. Let us know your thoughts on the death penalty?” Go to Acme’s Facebook page, #deathpenalty, and let us know what you think. You can also follow us on twitter @acmebail