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November 10, 2011

Former DA of LA says "Death penalty cases not a smart use of limited funds"

This new commentary by Gil Garcetti, headlined "Death penalty cases not a smart use of limited funds," starts and ends this way:

I served 32 years in the District Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.   I've been gone for nearly 11 years.  In those accumulated 43 years, only two people sent to Death Row from an L.A. court have been executed, despite decades of agony for the families of murder victims and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to taxpayers.

I have concluded that the death penalty law should be replaced with life imprisonment without the possibly of parole.  Why?  Because the death penalty serves no useful purpose. It is not a deterrent.  It is horrendously expensive, and we cannot afford it.

There also are too many instances, nationwide, where people have been on Death Row until new evidence determined their total innocence.  I would not be shocked if one or more of the 720 prisoners on Death Row in California were innocent of the crime for which he or she awaits execution.

Even proponents of the death penalty agree that the current system brings no finality or closure to the family and friends of the murdered victim and that it is outrageously expensive.  They argue that it can all be done faster or for less money.  They don't fully understand California's laws or justice system....

Not all murders are death penalty eligible cases.  But the families of those murder victims deserve finality and closure as much as the grieving families in death penalty cases.  In 2000, the last year I was D.A., there were 1,000 murders in Los Angeles County.  Of those, only 370 cases were solved

In 2009, the last year for these figures, there were 699 murders but just 362 cases were solved.  So even though today there are fewer homicide cases overall, the number of murder cases solved in L.A. has barely changed.  Statewide, 46 percent of murders remain unsolved.

By replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment, we save $1billion over the next five years -- money that can then be used for productive purposes including keeping our teachers, police and firefighters in their jobs.

We cannot bring back a murdered loved one.  But we can help prevent future similar tragedies by using our very limited financial resources in smarter ways than to finance a law that serves no useful purpose.

November 10, 2011 at 09:24 AM | Permalink


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Garcetti, just another career prosecutor who turns out to be a weak, sniveling, felon-cuddler... oh well. They can't all be Harry Connick (Sr.)!

Posted by: Reader | Nov 10, 2011 11:21:58 AM

I wonder if Mr. Garcetti would care to tell Dr. Petit to his face that the DP "serves no useful purpose."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 10, 2011 2:52:29 PM

@Bill Otis
Better yet, have him explain it to the families of Robert Gleeson's victims.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 10, 2011 10:52:11 PM

Isn't Garcetti the same guy who was responsible for the OJ debacle? Why doesn't he have enough shame to just shut the heck up and shuffle off into well-deserved obscurity?

Posted by: alpino | Nov 11, 2011 5:12:55 AM

What if Mr. Garcetti's position is correct ?

Posted by: JAG | Nov 11, 2011 7:58:41 AM

JAG --

"What if Mr. Garcetti's position is correct?"

It is for the taxpayers to decide if the DP is worth the cost, not Garcetti. He gets one vote, that's it. And, if his position is correct, then he shouldn't have any trouble saying it to Dr. Petit's face. Somehow I doubt he will.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 11, 2011 8:42:48 AM

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