Oakland is laying off police officers, L.A. can't afford overtime for homicide investigators, and the state's Victim Compensation Program was cut by $50 million. To close California's $25 billion budget gap, the governor has proposed slashing almost everything, including state workers' pay.
But what's the one government program that so far has been immune from the governor's cuts? The death penalty.
California wastes millions on its dysfunctional death penalty—more than $126 million per year. Plus, we’re poised to spend another $400 million on a new death row facility (since the current one is too rundown to hold the nation's largest death row population). Those costs add up: over the next five years, California will spend $1 billion on the death penalty.
Tell the governor there are better ways to close the budget gap without risking vital social services! The governor has the power to convert all death sentences to permanent imprisonment and save the state $1 billion without releasing a single prisoner. Permanent imprisonment is a safe and cost-effective alternative to the death penalty that provides crime victims with swift and certain justice. It’s time for Californians to demand that we stop wasting millions on executions and Cut This!
Photo Credit: ACLU of Northern California
I am writing to respectfully request that you cut the death penalty in California. All Californians are concerned about our state's growing budget gap and the need to reduce costs and raise revenue. As more and more necessary government services face cuts to their budgets, the state must re-evaluate its budget priorities. Cutting the death penalty will save California $1 billion over five years without releasing a single prisoner.
The alternative of permanent imprisonment accomplishes our shared values of public safety and fiscal responsibility. By converting California's 700+ death sentences to permanent imprisonment, you will save $1 billion dollars over five years and ensure that each of those prisoners will die in prison. Permanent imprisonment ensures swift and certain justice for victims' families, avoiding the turmoil of decades-long appeals and the hollow promise of execution.
In the past, the state has prioritized funding for the death penalty above crime prevention and victims' services. Los Angeles is denying overtime funding for homicide investigators, Oakland is laying off police officers, and 45% of all homicides statewide go unsolved. Last year, $50 million was cut from the Victims Compensation Fund. Yet despite these cuts to law enforcement and victims' services, the state continues to pay $126 million annually for its death penalty system.
Please prioritize effective law enforcement and the needs of victims over our state's dysfunctional death penalty. Cut the death penalty today, save money, and keep our communities safe.