States Consider Dropping Death Penalty
What do Maryland, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and New Hampshire have in common these days? All are considering bills to abolish the death penalty. Why? It's too expensive.
In five other states, Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey and Vermont lawmakers are considering releasing non-violent inmates early or cutting their sentences to cut expenses.
The cost of taking a death penalty case to trial is enormous. [More...]
Capital cases are expensive because the trials tend to take longer, they typically require more lawyers and more costly expert witnesses, and they are far more likely to lead to multiple appeals.
It costs only $25,000 a year or so to incarcerate an inmate. For an execution, it varies by jurisdiction, but here are some examples of what a state spends to prosecute a single death case:
*Maryland: $37 million per execution
*Federal court: $620,932 (8 times more than a lwop trial)
*Washington State: $650,000
Florida alone would save $51 million a year if it switched to prosecuting life without parole as opposed to seeking the death penalty.
Bottom line: On an average, a death penalty case costs 48% more than a case seeking life imprisonment without parole.
Add to that the high number of convictions that are reversed on appeal, the lack of research showing the death penalty serves to deter crime, and the toll it takes on the families of the victims, jurors and defendants' families, and it seems a no-brainer.
Also weigh in the risk that an innocent person may be executed. So, what's the death penalty good for? An eye for an eye? As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."
It's time to switch from being tough on crime to being smart on crime. Eliminating the death penalty would be a huge start in the right direction.
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