Nearly 3 1/2 years into a court-ordered suspension of executions, opponents have embraced a new argument: that Californians can't afford to carry out the death penalty in a constitutional manner.
They contend that by commuting all 682 death row inmates' sentences to life without the possibility of parole, the state could save up to $1 billion over the next five years -- a view expected to be offered, and challenged, during a public hearing today in Sacramento on proposed changes to the lethal injection procedures.
The cost savings from abolishing capital punishment can be substantial, as evidenced by the situation in California. Idaho would save millions of dollars if it abolished the death penalty. This is money that could be redirected toward proven crime control policies.
Idaho has conducted one execution in over 50 years. It currently has 17 people awaiting death (we no longer have a "death row"). Most people leave death row by having their sentences and/or convictions overturned than by execution. Clearly the death penalty has failed in Idaho. The current practice also victimizes family and friends by failing to deliver "justice" as promised. It is past time to abandon this failed policy.