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November 10, 2010

Could California conduct a bunch of executions in the coming months?

The question in this title of this post is prompted by this local article which notes that "there are seven inmates from [various California] counties who have exhausted all regular appeals who could have their execution date set, according to Christine Gasparac, press secretary for the California Attorney General's Office."  Here's more:

The list of seven gained significance recently with the announcement that the California Department of Corrections has obtained four doses of a lethal-injection drug that can be used during a state-authorized execution.

Those seven murderers include Kevin Cooper, who was sentenced to death in May 1985 for slaughtering a Chino Hills couple, their daughter and a neighborhood youth shortly after he escaped from the California Institution for Men in Chino.  The adult victims, Doug and Peggy Ryen, were chiropractors who had their office in Anaheim Hills.

The state's attempt to execute convicted rapist/murderer Albert Greenwood Brown, Jr., of Riverside — who has been on Death Row since 1982 — failed in September when the CDC's only dose of the lethal-injection drug passed its expiration date. It would have been California's first execution in five years....

The other killers on the list of seven include Stevie Lamar Fields, sentenced to death in Los Angeles in August 1979; Michael Morales, given the death sentence in Ventura County in June 1983; David Raley, sentenced in Santa Clara County in 1988; Mitchell Sims, sentenced in Los Angeles County in 1987, and Fernando Belmontes, sentenced in San Joaquin County in 1982.

If past is prologue, nobody should seriously expect a bunch of executions in California anytime soon. But the lethal injection litigation log-jam has to break at some point, and at least a few of the 700 murderers on death row in California probably should at least start taking seriously the prospect that they may actually have their sentences carried out.

November 10, 2010 at 09:00 AM | Permalink


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they spend hundreds millions dollars for the death penalty and let 1.000 unsolved homicides per year

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 10, 2010 10:10:05 AM

They could but they won't. They will continue to find excuses for why it can not happen.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 10, 2010 11:39:36 AM

What happens with the California death penalty starting in January depends a great deal on the million not-yet-processed ballots. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Nov 10, 2010 11:56:13 AM

Did it ever occur to you that the cost of the death penalty is more the doing of anti-death penalty legislators and not the state?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 10, 2010 11:59:05 AM


good point Mike. Of course, the Supreme Court is partially to blame also flip-flopping on several issues while lower courts are still grappling over mitigating circumstances and ineffective counsel despite several opinions over the years.

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 10, 2010 12:25:04 PM

The LA Times article is more informative.

"Only seven of those condemned prisoners have exhausted all of their appeals and are eligible for execution, said Christine Gasparac, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

"Gasparac declined to say whether state law prohibits the import or use of lethal-injection drugs manufactured abroad and lacking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval."

Posted by: George | Nov 10, 2010 12:38:26 PM

California has 13.000 unsolved homicides in ten years and spent 250 million dollars for every of its 13 executions.

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 10, 2010 2:53:42 PM

The state did not spend that much for each execution, that is the cost of the death penalty as a whole. Putting it that way is a lie.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 10, 2010 3:15:50 PM

100-150 millions dollars in death penalty per year since 1982 and 13 executions

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 10, 2010 3:25:24 PM

That is still not 250 million dollars per execution.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 10, 2010 4:17:40 PM

you are right: it's 300 millions bucks

Posted by: claudio giusti | Nov 11, 2010 2:27:36 AM

And that's still a lie claudio. The cost of an execution is room and board, the appeals and the apparatus of death--not the expenses of dozens of other inmates.
Besides, if that is how you figure out the cost then wouldn't it get cheaper the more we execute?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 11, 2010 10:39:48 AM

If we actually executed all of the inmates who have been on death row for 20 years or longer (172) per CDCR, then the number would be 24 million (using Claudio's 150 million/yr figure). That would still leave out the remaining over 500 death row inmates which if executed in the next ten years would make the figure substantially lower (just under 8 million) even assuming another 150 million per year in the next ten years. Also where is this 150 million per year figure coming from and does it truly represent additional costs over and above the cost of LWOP if it were imposed and death was off the table?

At 100 milllion per year, the figure for executing all California death row inmates after ten more years is just over 5 million per execution. Not nearly as shocking a figure, expensive yes, shocking no. That is why it is not used by those who advocate an outcome not a reason for the outcome.

Posted by: David | Nov 11, 2010 10:59:38 AM

Your is a verrry funnny way to count money. Abolishing death penalty will save millions dollars.

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 11, 2010 11:59:01 AM

It shouldn't matter who wins the CA Atty General race. Brown and Harris both said they would "uphold the law." I will believe it when I see it. Every state should have a statute that authorizes the Assistant State Attorney handling the case to ask the appropriate court or Governor to set the execution date after exhausting appeals within 30 days. The execution should be scheduled within 30 days from that. Then, possibly some states like Florida, who don't want to carry them out will be forced to by statute. All it takes is one or a couple of legislators somewhere in the system to prevent it. Like Chambers in Nebraska for one.

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 11, 2010 12:25:15 PM

Abolishing LWOP and indeterminate life sentences would save millions per inmate as well. But punishment should not be decided on the basis of cost.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 11, 2010 1:30:05 PM

Now it is decided on the base of race and economic status

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 11, 2010 2:37:48 PM

Really? There are wealthy people on death row, there also killers of minorities. The largest group on death row are White men. In fact in the first two months of 2011 two White men will be put to death for the murders of Black victims and one will be put to death for murdering two Native Americans. But if inequity in the death penalty system is your real concern then you should advocate reform of the justice system, not abolition.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 11, 2010 6:21:23 PM


It was not my way of counting money, rather it was yours.

"California has 13,000 unsolved homicides in ten years and spent 250 million dollars for every of its 13 executions.

I just applied the overall expenditure to the remainder of death row who have not been executed yet.

Posted by: David | Nov 12, 2010 10:06:20 AM

If you must build twenty cars to have a working one, how does this car cost?

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 12, 2010 3:00:36 PM

That still means it would get cheaper the more we execute.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 13, 2010 12:53:33 PM

not cheaper than 50 millions

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Nov 13, 2010 5:29:02 PM

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