Death Row

Thomas Paul West, Condemned Inmate on Death Row for Nearly 23 Years, Begs for Mercy Before Tuesday Execution

Thomas Paul West, 52, has been on death row since the Reagan administration. He's scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday, but is now seeking the same last-minute appeals many condemned inmates seek before their state-ordered date with death.

West is scheduled to appear before the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency today at the state prison in Florence, where he is expected to beg for mercy and request that his sentence be reduced to life in prison.

According to the Associated Press, West probably will argue that sexual abuse as a child by three different men changed his life forever, and caused his post-traumatic stress disorder.

West was convicted of the 1987 murder of Donald Bortle.

West beat the man to death while robbing his Tucson home. Bortle's body was found decomposing in a closet, covered in blood, and with his hands tied behind his back.

West is part of the nearly 20 percent of Arizona's condemned inmates who've been on Death Row for over 20 years.

We crunched the numbers earlier this year following the execution of kid-killing rapist Richard Bible, and according to the DOC's 2010 Operating Per Capita Cost Report, it costs taxpayers $66.90 a day ($24,418 a year) to house, feed, and care for a single inmate in the Browning Unit of the Eyman Prison, where death-row inmates are housed. That's about $6 more than the $60.59 average for all units in the prison system.

Multiply $24,418 by the 24 inmates who've spent more than 20 years on death row, and you'll see that Arizona spent $586,032 last year alone to house convicted murderers who've spent more than two decades waiting to be executed.

Again, that's last year alone -- and it's only about 20 percent of the Death Row population. When you look at all of death row, Arizona taxpayers spent $3,174,405 on cell space for convicted murderers last year as they attempt to cheat court-ordered executions.

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James King
Contact: James King

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