In November 2012, California voters took to the polls to consider Proposition 34, a ballot initiative to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole (“LWOP”) as the state’s most severe punishment. In advance of the election, Judge Arthur L. Alarcón and Paula M. Mitchell released this Article, which the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review published on its website on September 10, 2012.

In this Article, the authors updated voters on the findings presented in their groundbreaking 2011 study, which revealed that from 1978 to 2011, California’s death-penalty system cost the state’s taxpayers $4 billion more than a system that has LWOP as its most severe penalty. Here, the authors demonstrate that the decision to maintain the current system will cost Californians an additional $5 billion to $7 billion between now and 2050. In that time, roughly 740 more inmates will be added to death row, an additional fourteen executions will be carried out, and more than five hundred death-row inmates will die of old age or other causes before the state executes them.

On November 6, 2012, Proposition 34 was defeated by a margin of 6,460,264 votes to 5,974,243. The Article is reproduced here as it originally appeared on the Law Review’s website, although the pages have been renumbered and minor typographic corrections have been made.