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The international Community and the DP

Cost of the Death Penalty

Millions Misspent: What Politicians Don't Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty
Capital Punishment Costs More Than Incarceration Excerpt from "The Case Against The Death Penalty" 
The Cost of the Death Penalty in California From Death Penalty Focus of California
American Justice in America (?) 
Cost of the Federal Death Penalty

 

  MILLIONS MISSPENT: What Politicians Don't Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty
[excerpt] Death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. In California, capital trials are six times more costly than other murder trials.  A study in Kansas indicated that a capital trial costs $116,700 more than an ordinary murder trial. Complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections, and expenses for expert witnesses are all likely to add to the costs in death penalty cases. The irreversibility of the death sentence requires courts to follow heightened due process in the preparation and course of the trial. The separate sentencing phase of the trial can take even longer than the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. And defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial when they are facing a possible death sentence. After conviction, there are constitutionally mandated appeals which involve both prosecution and defense costs. Most of these costs occur in every case for which capital punishment is sought, regardless of the outcome. Thus, the true cost of the death penalty includes all the added expenses of the "unsuccessful" trials in which the death penalty is sought but not achieved. Moreover, if a defendant is convicted but not given the death sentence, the state will still incur the costs of life imprisonment, in addition to the increased trial expenses. For the states which employ the death penalty, this luxury comes at a high price. In Texas, a death penalty case costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.  In Florida, each execution is costing the state $3.2 million.  In financially strapped California, one report estimated that the state could save $90 million each year by abolishing capital punishment.  The New York Department of Correctional Services estimated that implementing the death penalty would cost the state about $118 million annually. 

    Excerpt from "The Case Against The Death Penalty" 
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT COSTS MORE THAN INCARCERATION

It is sometimes suggested that abolishing capital punishment is unfair to the taxpayer, on the assumption that life imprisonment is more expensive than execution. If one takes into account all the relevant costs, however, just the reverse is true. "The death penalty is not now, nor has it ever been, a more economical alternative to life imprisonment."56 A murder trial normally takes much longer when the death penalty is at issue than when it is not. Litigation costs – including the time of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and court reporters, and the high costs of briefs – are mostly borne by the taxpayer. A 1982 study showed that were the death penalty to be reintroduced in New York, the cost of the capital trial alone would be more than double the cost of a life term in prison. In Maryland, a comparison of capital trial costs with and without the death penalty for the years 1979-1984 concluded that a death penalty case costs "approximately 42 percent more than a case resulting in a non-death sentence." In 1988 and 1989 the Kansas legislature voted against reinstating the death penalty after it was informed that reintroduction would involve a first-year cost of "more than $11 million." Florida, with one of the nation's most populous death rows, has estimated that the true cost of each execution is approximately $3.2 million, or approximately six times the cost of a life-imprisonment sentence." A 1993 study of the costs of North Carolina's capital punishment system revealed that litigating a murder case from start to finish adds an extra $163,000 to what it would cost the state to keep the convicted offender in prison for 20 years. The extra cost goes up to $216,000 per case when all first-degree murder trials and their appeals are considered, many of which do not end with a death sentence and an execution. From one end of the country to the other public officials decry the additional cost of capital cases even when they support the death penalty system. "Wherever the death penalty is in place, it siphons off resources which could be going to the front line in the war against crime…. Politicians could address this crisis, but, for the most part they either endorse executions or remain silent."62 The only way to make the death penalty more "cost effective" than imprisonment is to weaken due process and curtail appellate review, which are the defendant's (and society's) only protection against the most aberrant miscarriages of justice. Any savings in dollars would, of course, be at the cost of justice: In nearly half of the death-penalty cases given review under federal habeas corpus provisions, the murder conviction or death sentence was overturned.   In 1996, in response to public clamor for accelerating executions, Congress imposed severe restrictions on access to federal habeas corpus  and also ended all funding of the regional death penalty "resource centers" charged with providing counsel on appeal in the federal courts. These restrictions virtually guarantee that the number and variety of wrongful murder convictions and death sentences will increase. The savings in time and money will prove to be illusory.

 

  THE COST OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN CALIFORNIA
Death Penalty Focus of California

TRIAL
Defense Attorney
Defense Investigation
Prosecution Attorney
Prosecution Investigation
Court
LA Jail
Total Cost to LA County
Capital
$385,998
$48,523
$771,996
$48,523
$506,408
$136,875
$1,898,323
Regular
$160,058
$5,105
$320,116
$5,105
$82,188
$54,750
$627,322

This table does not take into consideration the cost of incarceration which, for a death row defendant, would average $189,603. The incarceration of an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment generally costs about $821,613.

  • In Los Angeles County, the total cost of capital punishment is $2,087,926.
  • In Los Angeles County, the total cost of life imprisonment without possibility of parole is $1,448,935.

General Studies

  • A study done by the Sacramento Bee argued that California would save $90 million per year if it were to abolish the death penalty.
  • The average cost of a capital trial in Texas is $2.3 million--three times the cost to incarcerate an individual for 40 years.
  • The average cost of a capital trial in Florida is $3.2 million.

  Cost of the Federal Death Penalty


Texas Death Penalty Info www.txdpinfo.org       write us

 

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