Report: California Death Penalty in Critical Condition

Panel calls for reforms to clear massive execution backlog
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2008 3:43 AM CDT
In this Monday, Oct. 25, 2004 file photo in San Quentin, Calif., Guard Joe Dellabruna opens an entrance to death row at San Quentin State Prison.    (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – California's capital punishment system is nearing collapse, according to a state commission. The time between sentencing and execution in the state is as long as 25 years—double the national average. The panel recommended California spend $100 million a year to hire more lawyers and clear the "overwhelmed" appeals system, reports the Sacramento Bee.

California's death row population is 670 inmates, the largest in the country. The state has executed just 13 people in the 30 years since it reinstated capital punishment. The panel was split on abolishing California's "dysfunctional" death penalty system, but noted that death row prisoners cost the state far more than prisoners sentenced to life without parole.