A report released Wednesday by the Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at University of California Berkeley and the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that wrongful convictions cost California taxpayers at least $221 million from 1989 through 2012.
The study found that the cost of incarceration for wrongfully convicted individuals in the state was $80 million, while lawsuit settlements in wrongful conviction cases cost the state $68 million with an additional $68 million spent on trials and appeals.
In 2008, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice issued recommendations for law enforcement which sought to reduce wrongful convictions, but few of the recommendations have since been adopted.
An op-ed in the Sacramento Bee Wednesday called for lawmakers to do their part to prevent wrongful convictions, if not for the sake of the wrongfully convicted, then for that of the California taxpayer.
“It’s been clear for years that more should be done to prevent these unjust prosecutions, which punish the innocent and let the guilty go free,” Associate Editor Foon Rhee wrote. “If legislators won’t respond to the pleas of the exonerated, maybe angry taxpayers will get their attention.”