Report: California condemns many, executes few

The death penalty is a very local affair, with most condemnations and executions occurring in just a tiny handful of the nation’s counties, according to a new report from a group opposing capital punishment.

The Death Penalty Information Center’s study found no California counties rank among the top 15 among the two percent of counties responsible for
over half of the executions since 1976; Texas boasts nine. The Golden State went from conducting executions at a glacial pace to conducting none at all after being stymied by a court order.

But five California counties – Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Alameda and San Diego – make the top 10 among the 2 percent responsible for more than half of the nation’s current death row population. California voters – despite no executions having occurred here since 2006 – keeps condemning inmates to death and last year rejected a ballot measure to abolish capital punishment. California now has 742 death-row inmates.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    When an animal has rabies, humane disposal is in order. What else do you do with a psychopath?

  • JohnW

    California will never go to the volume and speed of executions they have in Texas or Florida.

    The only practical purpose I can see for the death penalty as practiced (or not) in CA is that it gives prosecutors leverage for life sentence plea deals. Not even sure about that, since defense attorneys know that a client sentenced to death is more likely to die of natural causes in prison.

    Sleeping accommodations are better on death row, and the prisoners don’t have to worry about getting a shiv in the neck while in the yard with the general population. Or being forced to service Big Daddy.

  • Bruce

    The man who whacked 2 people at the Richmond toll plaza, wanted the death penalty. Unfortunately he will never be handed a lethal dose of Heroin to whack himself.

    To many lawyers are making money appealing death penalty cases. Even for Rick Davis, who admitted guilt.

  • Elwood