Jan 15, 2010

Death Sentences in California

In 2009, 29 convicted defendants were given death sentences in Califonia. This was up from the 20 people sentenced to death in 2008, and was more than the number of death sentences handed down in Texas and Florida in 2009 combined.

Despite the increase in the number of death sentences, California has not carried out an execution in 4 years and probably will not execute anyone in 2010.  As a result, San Quentin's death row houses 697 prisoners, about 20% of the nationwide total.

Many of these prisoners have undoubtedly committed horrible crimes.  But in an era when the state is too broke to spend money on law-abiding students and people who can't afford medical care, spending millions of extra dollars to convict and house "the worst of the worst" seems a terrible waste of public money. LWOP sentences (life without possibility of parole) are a far cheaper alternative that protect society as well as death sentences do.