What's this Blog About?

Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Death Penalty Myth #1: It's Cheaper than Life in Prison

So why is the death penalty more expensive? Most people believe that keeping a prisoner in prison for life without parole has got to be more expensive than the death penalty. Often I hear people say that if it wasn't for the appeals, death would be cheaper. Both of these thoughts are false.

The bottom line is that the costs of things like expert witness fees, and research are extremely expensive in a death penalty case at the trial phase. If the state is going to get a jury of people to kill someone, the attorneys often will go way overboard in trying the case (this seems like it's good, but take a look at what an over-zealous prosecutor is capable of when trying to prove a death penalty case. The appeals process is often not the culprit in raising the costs of death penalty cases. Consider that even with life without parole, some prisoners will appeal and so that portion of the costs is a wash. Let me repeat... The higher cost is IN THE INITIAL TRIAL.

Consider these facts and then ask me some questions!


  • The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life. Taxpayers have paid more than $250 million for each of the state’s executions. (L.A. Times, March 6, 2005)
  • In Kansas, the costs of capital cases are 70% more expensive than comparable non-capital cases, including the costs of incarceration. (Kansas Performance Audit Report, December 2003).
  • In Indiana, the total costs of the death penalty exceed the complete costs of life without parole sentences by about 38%, assuming that 20% of death sentences are overturned and reduced to life. (Indiana Criminal Law Study Commission, January 10, 2002).
  • The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of sentencing murderers to life imprisonment. The majority of those costs occur at the trial level. (Duke University, May 1993).
  • Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each execution. (Palm Beach Post, January 4, 2000).
  • In Texas, a death penalty case costs 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. (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992). ww.deathpenaltyinfo.org


Gritsforbreakfast said...

Good stuff, Rae. I was thinking about you recently, hoping your campaign on this is going well. Best,

Anonymous said...

Wow you ruined my entire researc paper with this

Steven said...


Steven said...

and anonymous dude...he didn't ruin your research paper...you did.