J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

Like abortion and similar subjects, our local newspaper gets periodic anti-death penalty letters.

However, there are still plenty of us who say if you pass a sentence of death you should carry it out, not keep them around at huge expense to the taxpayers.

If I were the ultimate arbiter I would never pass a death sentence unless the conviction were absolutely rock-solid (none of the circumstantial things like the local security guard case).  Then, having passed the sentence, I would do it forthwith with maybe one appeal that must be completed within a few months.


To:  AV Press

Date: 03/15/2011

Re:  Death Penalty Musings

Clayton Butlers’ anti-death penalty letter makes much of surveys showing the penalty does not significantly deter murder, etc.  In response I offer two points and a suggestion.

First, the penalty would certainly be a more effective deterrent if we actually executed the condemned.  As it stands now, every criminal is 99% assured the worst that can happen is that his cell may have an old-style TV rather than a new flat-screen.

Secondly, if the penalty were actually imposed society reaps significant financial benefits. For instance, California currently is hosting 697 condemned inmates at a cost estimated at around $137,000 per year for each (which includes litigating the endless appeals, etc.).   To save you the math, this is costing us California taxpayers $95,489,000 per year, becoming, neglecting inflation, nearly $3 billion if we assume they all hang around for an average of 30 years.

Which leads to one of my pet proposals:  The shifting of specialty interest costs from the taxpayer to what I term “Affinity Financing”.  This is a win-win deal for all concerned, and its implementation will be a top priority when I become dictator.

It’s a simple concept.  Say you are anti-death penalty.  You sign up for that affinity financing group and the $95.5 million yearly cost of keeping these individuals around is apportioned equally to each member of your group.  Think of the greatly enhanced moral satisfaction your payment would buy.  Perhaps there could be other special benefits, for example you could be granted long personal philosophical chats with your clients.

I know this is unlikely, but it is still conceivable some of your fellow group members might decide preserving murderers isn’t really all that great an idea after all and drop out, thereby significantly increasing your share cost.  I think you could easily counter this by announcing the group is faced with the necessity of reducing costs by actually executing a few.  Surely this would bring in plenty of new members happy to pay whatever was required.