California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, facing a budget crisis, may cut down on rewards offered to solve criminal cases, the Sacramento Bee says. Governors of the state increasingly have offered $50,000 rewards since the 1980s, with a slim chance the state would be on the hook to pay. In the past 20 years, only one of every 10 rewards has been paid for leading to the successful prosecution of a criminal on the run, the Bee reports. If all 135 rewards offered since 1983 had been claimed, the state would have had to pay more than $5.9 million. Instead, 14 rewards in that time period cost only $685,000.
During Gov. Gray Davis’ final months in office, the state Office of Criminal Justice Planning was eliminated to save money. Schwarzenegger is moving the reward program into his office.
“A lot of times, murder suspects and informants travel in the same circles, but if a reward gets killers off the streets, it’s worth it,” said Tim Herrera, former spokesman for the Office of Criminal Justice Planning. “It’s a last resort,” said Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal. “These are long shots, but you do the long shots because the regular shots aren’t working.” Lowenthal pushed a bill this year to expand the reward program to include serial rapists. The bill stalled in committee because of the potential costs.