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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 8/6/18

California's Cash Cow Prison System and the Money-Sucking Death Penalty that fixes nothing.

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Many years ago, I did extensive reading and research on the Death Penalty, precisely its cost and ramifications on the family members of victims in California. Presently in CA, and my DP research in FL, I have found researching facts again a bit challenging... but here goes.

In 1972, California ended the death penalty, but months later reinstated it... since then there have been 13 executions, the last one being in 2006... As of 8/2017, there are 747 inmates on Death Row in San Quentin. That requires a lot of guards. And a ton of moolah.

In California, the State Correctional Officer must be at least 21 and have a HS diploma or a GED, know how to use a gun, and how to control and instruct inmates. Their salary range is $36,000-$73,728. Not bad for a high school grad.

Inmates on San Quentin's Death Row are allowed appeals, subject to the court receiving a good-enough reason, every 7 years, and the victim families are notified and invited to attend. I view that as just more salt to a wound that never heals. And, of course, the attorney fees are not cheap and they're paid by taxpayers. Know what else? Every appeal has to be applied for and attorneys wait until just before the 7-year time limit is reached... effectively 'buying' more time. Not that they need to since executions are not performed that often.

From the Death Penalty Information Center: "Cases without the death penalty cost $740,000, while cases where the death penalty is sought cost $1.26 million. Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population. What's 747x90,000... hmm... $67,230,000.

Appeals for the last 2 executed prisoners cost $1.76 million dollars and did not include the state's expenses in defending the convictions, the trial costs or extra costs attributed to death-row incarceration. Why Californians consistently vote for the Death Penalty is beyond me.

A 6/17 article in the LA times heads with "At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more that a year at Harvard".

Several years ago I was collecting signatures in CA to abolish the Death Penalty and was shocked at how many people did not want to sign.

So why in the world did I get a burr under my saddle to share all this info?

Because I'm not sure our citizenry is cognizant of all this. One of the petition "non-signers" I encountered said "kill 'em all!" They aren't real aware of just how long that takes, how much money that takes, and how much additional anguish for family members.

Plus, it will fix nothing. A murdered family member is physically 'gone'. I cannot imagine, after the perp's execution, a family member saying, "oh good, now I feel better." Won't happen.

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So my daughter, Joie Armstrong, was the fourth victim of Cary Staynor, the perpetrator of the Yosemite Murders in 1999.

I was contacted by a Mennonite woman shortly after her death, who wanted to know what I thought of the death penalty. Well, I'd never given it much thought and she helped/suggested that I do so.

I did. And then lightly pressured my family members to agree to request a Life with no Chance of Release outcome with no court case regarding guilt or not. He had already confessed. We wrote Janet Reno in DC regarding that and since Joie had been killed on federal land, making it a federal Case. She said "ok".

We never had to go to court, save one 'hearing'. We were spared a court trial and the rehashing of the horror... who would want to be put through all of that. The damage was done and permanent and not fixable. It was over and done and we would not be notified every 7 years thereafter should there be some reason his attorney could come up with that the court would approve.

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RN, math teacher, progressive, anti-war, political junkie, have lived in Germany and China, believe we're all equal members of one human family, disgusted with the US government
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