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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Election 2012

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty


Your Texas cost review is precisely the reason that the cost studies must be reviewed. Apparently, you didn't notice.

All you did was to say the average cost cell in Texas Prions was $17,000/yr and then compare that to a story you read that said a death penalty trial and appeals costs $1.2 million.

So what?

What matters is what does it cost for thr pre trial, trial, appelas and cell costs for the death penalty vs LWOP.

You presented nothing like that.

Can you not see how deceptive and none representative of a fair and even assessment of costs that your presentation was?

It is quite clear to anyone that wants an apples to apples comparison.

My guess is that your source was only repeating the absurd Texas cost study that I already presented to you, below. But, as you didn't present a link . . .

How much do the states save by being able to plea bargain a case to LWOP, only possible with the death penalty, and a cost credit to having the death penalty.

How much do the states save by executing murderers within 6-10 years, by not having geriatriac care costs for those murderers, such costs ranging from $50,000-$90,000 per year, on avergae up to the millions, depending upon cases.

If you read my ACLU Calif cost review, below, I believe the Ca state prison hospital avergaes $83,000/yr/prisoner (from memory)

Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/04/2012 at 3:35 AM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

If the zoo has enough money for their $72 million dollar expansion why don't they wait a few years to build and move some of those funds towards caring for the animals they already have. I don't buy " just think of the children" when 5 schools in Oakland have closed due to lack of city funds. One school Thurgood Marshall is right down the street from the zoo.
The zoos California "conservation" expansion will be build on top of the habitat of the threatened Alameda whip snake. The conservation part is really hard to understand. The expansion is a massive hypocrisy.

14 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Alexa Gilweit on 10/03/2012 at 11:42 PM

Re: “Ignacio's Successor

steve does a good job on this article-fair and balanced as the saying goes-

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tony Santos on 10/03/2012 at 11:06 PM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty


Let's look at how reliable The ACLU is.

This is my rebuttal to the ACLU cost review in California.

Response to Absurd California Death Penalty Cost "Study"…

Please fact check.

Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/03/2012 at 6:49 PM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty


Sometime, you must fact check.

DPIC is a very well known anti death penalty source, period.

Yes, there are many studies finding the death penalty more expensive. Did you fact check any of them?

I already gave you this one, which you still didn't review:

Maryland Cost Study Problems: Urban Institute: "Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland"…

Then there is this:

Texas cost study - I have told the Dallas Morning News, for many years, to stop using their totally inaccurate cost review. They still use it.

They found that it costs $2.3 million per average death penalty case (for 5 cases), more than 3 times more expensive than a $750,000 life sentence. (C. Hoppe, "Executions Cost Texas Millions," The Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992, 1A)

The death penalty costs are for pre trial, trial and appeals and incarceration. Yet, the life cost is only for confinement for life. Big problem.

In addition, an academic review, by a neutral academic, found that the verifiable costs in the DMN article actually found the death penalty was cheaper.


Virginia executes within 7.1 years, on average, and has executed 75% of those so sentenced. I have never seen a cost comparison between death and LWOP in Virginia, but it is hard to imagine LWOP being, on average, cheaper than such a death penalty protocol, which could be duplicated anywhere.

Did you fact check the " 2003 Columbia Law School study found that 68% of the nations capital cases have been overturned"?

Do so now.

"A Broken Study: A Review of 'A Broken System' "…

As I said.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/03/2012 at 6:42 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

It's clear that Parrot and the Zoo board and city of Oakland don't give a Lagomorph's tail about animals, except to use images of those animals to permit the Zoo to development public open space for private profits.

12 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Iarwain Ben-adar on 10/03/2012 at 4:01 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

So now Parrot says they'll go ahead and build their little theme park empire whether the voters like it or not? Well, I guess with enough back room dealings and political slickery, they can get the plans approved by the planning commission.
But they'll not do it with my money!
Good points are made by the commentors above, that if we're going to raise taxes, we've got police and teachers to hire first.
But to give this kind of money to an outfit who's deceptive tactics are there for all to see (just READ the ballot measure!!) is pretty appalling.
The irony of paving over sensitive chapparal and native grassland to honor and educate about endangered species is pretty sick.
We should defend Knowland Park's open space with every ounce of our strength. The moment we relax our stewardship of urban open space, the bulldozers will roll. Then it's gone for good.

22 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by TJ Yarbrough on 10/03/2012 at 2:35 PM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty

As the author of this article, I want to defend some of the statements made above. There are countless sources showing that the death penalty is significantly more costly then LWOP, and that to make it more cost effective would be risky.

Even in states like Texas and Virginia, where capital cases have limited appeals, huge costs are accrued during the trial. According to the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center, a death penalty case costs on average $1 million more then a LWOP case. The national average cost to house an inmate is $26,000 a year. So the cost of the trial alone would pay for the 40 years of imprisonment. That’s a conservative estimate. In some states, such as Maryland, the cost of trial is closer to $2 million more expensive, according to an Urban Institute study.

As for Texas. According to a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the average cost to house an inmate is $17,000 a year. In 2009, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported that the trial and appeals costs for a death penalty case run at about $1.2 million. So the cost of legal process alone could house an inmate amongst the general prison population for 70 years. That is, again, not accounting for the high cost of death row housing.

Meanwhile, a 2003 Columbia Law School study found that 68% of the nations capital cases have been overturned, thereby wasting money on securing death convictions.

Then there is the expensive appeals process and the cost of death row housing.
So the claim that the death penalty is more expensive then LWOP is based in factual evidence, especially in California where lengthy capital trials, appeals and housing costs have bloated the cost of the death penalty.

As for Virginia: this is maybe the ONLY state where the death penalty might be cheaper then LWOP. The state has expedited the appeals process, and a very small number of capital cases are overturned. Citing the same 2003 Columbia law school study, Virginia overturned roughly 16% of capital cases – compared to the 66% average. The authors of the study pose the question: “Are Virginia’s capital judgments in fact four times better then the national average? Or are its courts more tolerant of serious error?”

Maybe Virginia has a superior death penalty system. But the ACLU certainly doesn't think so. In a 2003 report, they wrote that; "there are, in fact, many errors taking place in Virginia capital cases. The appellate courts simply are not reviewing them, and thus are not reversing convictions or sentences." This
makes one wonder what risks come with expediting capital cases for the sake of lower, albeit still high costs. There’s a reason why other states rigorously vet executions; because they don’t want to kill an innocent person.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joaquin Palomino on 10/03/2012 at 2:19 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

This reporter clearly did not thoroughly check the facts. He is right that questions swirl around this issue, and the zoo with the very deceptively worded measure tries to pull the cute fuzzy animal wool over voters eyes. However that may be, the zoo receives millions of $ from numerous sources besides the city of Oakland. They use smoke and mirrors to hide where the $ come from and how they use them and it is difficult to unravel, but it is easily discovered that the authors statement regarding zoo funding is inaccurate. Does Dr. Parrott really believe that thoughful voters will believe him about not trying to deceive them with the measure wording? He says he just wants to leave open the options. This, after he signed a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding, worked out with community volunteers over many hours of meetings, which he later declared not legally binding and irrelavant, thus completely betraying the communities trust ? This MOU agreement, which he signed contained a very very different plan for the expansion than is currently planned. If indeed they have the moneys for this expansion and as he says it will go on whether this measure passes or not, then why do they not have enough money for their current needs? Where lies the truth among the smoke and mirrors? If this measure should pass they can do with this 25 years of money whatever they please. Read the measure BEFORE you vote and decide based on understanding what the measure really says, and take note that should any legal challenge arise during the course of 25 years, the zoo will have their legal expenses paid by us, the taxpayers.

20 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by terry sayre on 10/03/2012 at 1:56 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

The fact that the public funds generated by a county-wide parcel tax will be administered not by a governmental agency, but by a private foundation -- The East Bay Zoological Society -- is disturbing to me. There is little enough spending oversight at the city and county level as it is -- the City of Oakland has not audited the Zoological Society's accounts in years -- yet here we're entrusting control over millions of residents' dollars to an appointed citizen's oversight committee that will meet once a year. Plus, the Society's decision-making process is not subject to sunshine laws that apply to governmental actions.

22 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Stefanie Gandolfi on 10/03/2012 at 1:52 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

I find myself wondering: If finances are so difficult for the Zoo to manage, why don't they simply throw open their books, divulge all funding sources, and allow the People of Oakland and Alameda County to form their own opinions. The duplicitous manner of the Zoo's dealings with the public are not conducive to public trust. If they want more of my money, they're going to have to convince me that they need it and that it will be well spent. So far, they're doing just the opposite. I'd vote for a parcel tax for education, fire protection, early child care or senior citizen care, but the Zoo is demonstrating it does not deserve more support.

15 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Thomas M. DeBoni on 10/03/2012 at 1:38 PM

Re: “Questions Swirl Around Zoo Tax Measure

this article says that the "zoo currently receives public support solely from the City of Oakland". That is simply not true. They receive $700,000 per year from the East Bay Regional Park District as well as having received bond monies from past years. They get lots and lots of public money already. Did the reporter do their due diligence?

Is it the poor poor zoo that can't afford to keep up their aging sewer systems and fund their educational programs that is begging for EVEN MORE public money, or is it the big spending zoo that is quite willing to trash the existing sensitive and rare native habitat in order to build their new grandiose expansion theme park about extinct species?? The irony of their project is striking and disturbing.

I say why should we give them an open checkbook? They aren't spending responsibly. When they can come back to the public with a more sensitive, cutting edge, responsible plan that does not trash and pave over the rare and sensitive species on site in OUR public park, then we can consider supporting more funding.

27 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Jean Robertson on 10/03/2012 at 10:00 AM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty


You are wrong on both Virginia and Texas costs, as you have been on everything.

Death Penalty: Saving Costs over LWOP?
Dudley Sharp

Can any jurisdiction have a responsible death penalty protocol whereby the costs are similar or less expensive than life without parole cases?

Of course.

In responsible states, the death penalty should be less expensive than a life sentence.

In Virginia, for example, 75% of those sent to death row have been executed, on average, within 7.1 years of sentencing, a protocol which will almost always be cheaper than a life sentence.

All jurisdictions could do that and save money over LWOP.

It is crucial to check the claims and methodology of the death penalty cost studies. Often they are either very deceptive or inaccurate, just as some studies which compare the costs of the death penalty vs life without parole.

Instead of an apple to apples comparison, we often find a kangaroos to apples comparison.

Make sure you fact check.

Response to Absurd California Death Penalty Cost "Study"…

Maryland Cost Study Problems: Urban Institute: "Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland"…

Duke (North Carolina) Death Penalty Cost Study: Let's be honest…

Cost, Deception & the Death Penalty: The Colorado Experience…

"Death Penalty Cost Studies: Saving Costs over LWOP"…

Cost Savings: The Death Penalty…

many more upon request

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/03/2012 at 6:18 AM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty

US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
Dudley Sharp, April 2012


For some time, with different polls and today, 80% of Americans support the death penalty, when the poll, properly, asks about specific "death penalty eligible" murders (1) , as opposed to asking the general question, about all murders, for which about 90% are not death penalty eligible.

Death penalty opposition falls by 43%, with death penalty support rising 25%, when polls switch from the general question to specific "death penalty eligible" murders.

It is very likely that life without parole (LWOP) has 95% support.

Support is overwhelming for what the US has, now, which is a death penalty option in some, very limited cases, whereby the other option in those cases is LWOP, the actual sentencing options that judges or juries consider in these cases.

Death penalty support remains high, throughout the world (1).

Those who have lost loved ones to death penalty eligible murders, if not all murders, support the death penalty above 95%, based upon the anecdotal evidence (2).


"US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High"…

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/03/2012 at 6:15 AM

Re: “Executing the Death Penalty

Texas may have had a 70-80% drop in capital murders, the only subset of murders eligible for the death penalty, as the combinations of robbery/murders andrape/murders are the most common.

That explains nearly all drops in death sentences.


crime murders rapes robberies

1991 2652 9266 47900

2010 1249 7622 32843

diff 1403 1644 15057
perc 53% 18% 31%

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dudley Sharp on 10/03/2012 at 6:14 AM

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