By Tom Cushing
E-mail Tom Cushing
About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply... (More)
About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply. My long, strange career trip has included law and management jobs in two Fortune 50 companies, before founding the legal search and staffing firm Cushing Group, Recruiters. I've lectured on negotiation and settlement strategy, and teach graduate courses at Golden Gate University (Adjunct of the Year for a doctoral seminar on business, law and society). Illinois, Texas and California (Inactive) admitted me to law practice; I hold JD and MBA degrees from the University of Illinois, and a BGS from the University of Michigan, with Distinction. There -- Go Blue! Personally, my daughters are a lawyer in NY, and a pre-med student in NM - their lives-and-times often animate these columns. I'm active in animal advocacy matters, having led a citizen team that took Alameda's city animal shelter to a non-profit operation - we saved $600K annually and the lives of some 700 companion animals/year vs. the City's best alternative. I'm delighted with that success. My family has re-homed 144 foster animals over many years; we host four boisterous border collies of our own. Mostly for humane movement efforts, I was nominated for GQ magazine's 2009 Better Men, Better World Award. You may notice that many of my rants relate to critter issues. In addition to the Raucous Caucus blog, I frequently contribute to The BARK magazine, and am a proud Moderator emeritus on the popular news and humor website www.Fark.com
. I prefer scotch over imported beer (Hide)
View all posts from Tom Cushing
What price retribution?
Uploaded: Jul 5, 2011
Some interesting internal conversations occur when there's tension between two competing beliefs inside any one person's head. For the many Californians who support both the death penalty and smaller government, there's such a moment of truth coming.
When capital punishment was restored by the US Supreme Court in 1976, the Court majority cited deterrence and retribution as legitimate social interests that might be served by its use. In our fair state, death penalty laws were invalidated by the CA Supreme Court in 1972 and 1976, and reinstated each time by legislation and popular vote.
Public support aside, there are significant arguments against it. For many, the taking of life is wrong, whether it's done by a murderer or by the State. Others point to later exoneration of 138 citizens previously sentenced to death the one punishment that cannot be undone. There's also ample evidence that capital punishment is ordered disproportionately against minority defendants: 60% of 714 condemned prisoners in CA are black or Hispanic, including 10 of the 18 men convicted in Contra Costa County. And it's a hotly debated question whether a significant deterrent effect has been demonstrated since the 1970s.
Still, some 70% of Californians favor capital punishment. Recent studies revealing the ruinous cost of its implementation, however, have led to legislative stirring in Sacramento. Supporters may soon be put to another pro-or-con choice.
According to that research and as widely reported in the general press, the death penalty has cost Californians a whopping $308 million for each execution; the care-and-feeding of death row inmates annually taxes us $184 million more than if those inmates were serving life without parole. Further, the cheapest death penalty trial costs the government over one million dollars more than most expensive life-without-parole case. Other directly-related costs abound.
These stunning numbers have energized opponents to develop new legislation to invalidate capital punishment in CA. If passed in this era of belt-tightening, another popular vote will ensue.
So, as we all must ask ourselves: is capital punishment right and is it a penalty we can still afford? In other words, taxpayers: what's retribution worth?
What is it worth to you?
Post a comment
Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.