THE FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE CASE AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…. For proponents of the death penalty, the usual arguments tend not to be effective. Fears about inadvertently executing the innocent, philosophical objections to the government killing American citizens, evidence that capital punishment doesn’t actually deter crime … the typical points don’t seem to connect.

Perhaps it’s time to try a new direction: the death penalty is just too expensive. (via John Cole)

At 678, California has the nation’s largest death row population, yet the state has not executed anyone in four years.

But it spends more than $130 million a year on its capital punishment system — housing and prosecuting inmates and coping with an appellate system that has kept some convicted killers waiting for an execution date since the late 1970s.

This is according to a new report that concludes that states are wasting millions on an inefficient death penalty system, diverting scarce funds from other anti-crime and law enforcement programs.

“Thirty-five states still retain the death penalty, but fewer and fewer executions are taking place every year,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “But the overall death row population has remained relatively steady. At a time of budget shortfalls nationwide, the death penalty is turning into an expensive form of life without parole.”

The right cares about fiscal responsibility, right?

The same report asked 500 police chiefs from across the country about their priorities for reducing violent crime. The death penalty ranked last.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.