Economics of the Death Penalty

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I’m a capital habeas attorney. I was very interested in your article (“Capital Intensive,” May 15, 2019) as I felt like I’d been hit by two trucks after the 2016 election (the other being Trump, of course). But we all really thought that Prop 62 would pass.

Now I am living and working under Prop 66—per Prop 66, one of my cases was transferred back to the superior court (in Sacramento County) and now I’m being paid to relitigate the same issues in the lower courts, and then work my way up again. In short, I will be paid twice for much of the same work, but with weird twists that will make it more expensive.

I’m also convinced that the opposition to eliminating the death penalty is really economically driven by the DAs. They don’t account for how much of their budget goes to capital cases from what I can see, but I am willing to bet they heavily rely on them to justify hefty budgets. So many of the death penalty cases come out a few counties—Riverside, Kern, San Bernardino, Sacramento—that don’t have all that much money to spare but do have conservative populations.

I’ve been doing criminal defense work for 40 years in Sonoma County (I started here in the DA’s office). Much of all of it is economically driven—I just think we should be upfront about what it really costs both in dollar and human terms, to make more intelligent decisions. I see signs of progress, but a long way to go. I really hope you don’t stop with that article but continue to explore this area.

Marylou Hillberg, Via Bohemian.com

You Missed It

Have any of your writers checked out Black Mountain Cycles (“Rocks and Rolling,” May 15, 2019)? Basically built a brand around gravel bikes, is in Marin County and has been for over 10 years. Uh, hello!

Amanda Jones Eichstaedt, Via Pacificsun.com

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