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The Supreme Court briefly invalidated the death penalty in the mid 1970s before reinstating it just a few years later. Since then, California, one of the few states that continues to carry out the practice on regular basis, has spent an insane amount of money killing criminals:

Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then, according to a comprehensive analysis of the death penalty’s costs.

The examination of state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases, conducted over three years by a senior federal judge and a law professor, estimated that the additional costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation for the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year.

The study’s authors, U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell, also forecast that the tab for maintaining the death penalty will climb to $9 billion by 2030, when San Quentin’s death row will have swollen to well over 1,000.

Too bad one of the few prominent national politicians to take on the cause of prison reform is retiring after one term: Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. [Los Angeles Times]

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