Reasonable and responsible protocols, currently in use, will produce a death penalty which costs no more, or will cost less, than Life Without Parole (LWOP).
Death penalty states could better implement justice, as given by jurors, and save taxpayers money, currently wasted by many irresponsible state systems.
With the high costs of long term imprisonment, a true life sentence will be more expensive than such a death penalty protocol.
a) Geriatric care: Most cost studies exclude geriatric care, recently found to be $60,000-$90,000/inmate/yr., a significant omission from life sentence costs. Prisoners are often found to be geriatric at relatively young ages, 50-55, because of lifestyle.
b) Plea Bargain to life: Only the presence of the death penalty allows for a plea bargain to a maximum life sentence. Such plea cost benefit, estimated at $500,000 to $1 million/case, accrues as a cost benefit/credit to the death penalty. I am aware of no study which includes this.
c) The cost of death row: No additional cost is necessary. Missouri and Kansas don’t have a death row.
NOTE: Depending upon jurisdiction, the inclusion of only 2a and 2b may result in a minimal cost differential between the two sanctions or an actual net cost benefit to the death penalty. Adding (1) would, very likely, mean that all death penalty jurisdictions would see a cost savings with the death penalty when comparing it to a true life sentence.
a) Some studies compare the cost of a death penalty case, including pre trial, trial, appeals and incarceration, to only the cost of incarceration for 40 years, excluding all trial costs and appeals, and geriatric care for a life sentence. The much cited, highly misleading Texas “study” does this.
b) It has been claimed that it costs $3.2 million/execution in Florida. That “study” decided to add the cost of the entire death penalty system in Florida ($57 million), which included all of the death penalty cases and dividing that number by only the number of executions (18). It is the same as stating that the cost of LWOP is $15 million/case, based upon all costs of 2000 LWOP cases being placed into the 40 lifers to have died (given an average cost of $300, 000/LWOP case, so far, for those 2000 cases.). The much cited and misused Duke University death penalty cost analysis for North Carolina does the same thing.
c) Many of the “studies”, such as Maryland’s (2008), suffer from similar or worse problems.
That is a cost benefit of $70 million per execution. 15 additional recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, support the deterrent effect.
Although I may find it inappropriate to put a dollar value on life, evidently this is not uncommon for economists, insurers, etc.
We know that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers. There is no doubt that executions do save innocent lives. What value do you put on the lives saved? Certainly not less than $5 million.
1). “State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder”, Paul R. Zimmerman (email@example.com), March 3. 2003, Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID354680_code021216500.pdf?abstractid=354680
copyright 2003-2009 Dudley Sharp
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Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
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Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
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