If the death penalty really cost effective?
Topic: If the death penalty really cost effective?
June 16, 2019 / By Delaney Question:
i used to think it was a good idea because it saves us from having to spend on a prisoner but i found out with all the appeals and stuff it ends up costing us way more money spent on courts, judges and what not.
I hear like millions are spent because of appeals. Is it really cheaper to put someone away in a prison cell vs sending them to death?
And i do mean the worst of the worst. (serial murderers, rapist, etc)
I am new to all this stuff so anyone who can give me some feedback would be great.
i mean to say "Is the death penalty really cost effective". Typo.
Best Answers: If the death penalty really cost effective?
Brooklyn | 2 days ago
No. This is because of the legal costs of the process, which is supposed to prevent executions of innocent people. The largest part of the costs are upfront, at the pre trial and trial stages, and they are in play whether or not there is a conviction, let alone a death sentence.
Here are a few examples of trial costs (death penalty and non death penalty cases, California):
Specific cases (California.)
People v. Scott Peterson, Death Penalty Trial
$3.2 Million Total
People v. Rex Allen Krebs Death Penalty Trial
$2.8 Million Total
People v. Cary Stayner, Death Penalty Trial
$2.368 Million Total
People v. Robert Wigley, Non-Death Penalty Trial
This data is for cases where the best records have been kept.
Some of the factors:
• more pre-trial time will be needed to prepare: cases typically take a year to come to trial
• more pre-trial motions will be filed and answered
• more experts will be hired
• twice as many attorneys will be appointed for the defense, and a comparable team for the prosecution
• jurors will have to be individually quizzed on their views about the death penalty, and they are more likely to be sequestered
• two trials instead of one will be conducted: one for guilt and one for punishment
• the trial will be longer: a cost study at Duke University estimated that death penalty trials take 3 to 5 times longer than typical murder trials
The numbers vary from state to state, but they all point in the same direction. From a fairly typical state study of the costs of the death penalty:
“The study counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1.26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost. The investigation costs for death-sentence cases were about 3 times greater than for non-death cases. The trial costs for death cases were about 16 times greater than for non-death cases ($508,000 for death case; $32,000 for non-death case).” (Kansas: Performance Audit Report: Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases: A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections)
Sources: For links to the many studies about the cost of the death penalty see http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-de...
Edit: Quizzard is absolutely correct about the failure of the death penalty to deter others. Here are two good links to this:
FBI http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm and
http://deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates... which gives state by state rates from the FBI (alphabetically) and indicates which states have the death penalty
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Originally Answered: high cost of the death penalty? is that only in the US?
I don't believe that question has been researched. Part of the reason is that the countries that carry out the most executions are:
Except for the United States, these are not countries that provide for due process of law.
You'll get a better idea of the specific reasons why the death penalty in the US is so expensive at
Every study done on the matter has concluded that a death penalty case costs much more than life imprisonment. Most of the extra cost is actually in the trail and pretrial stages, so the morally repugnant idea that appeals be eliminated will not really make that much difference.
Saving money should never be the deciding factor as to whether the states kills, but it is certainly NOT an argument for the death penalty.
The deterrent argument is not supported by ANY studies. One of the people above mentions such an effect, I challenge him to find a statistically valid study which shows that. US States that have the death penalty on average have higher murder and other violent crime rates, and while murder rates dropped country wide after the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1973 (a stat typically used to support the deterrent argument), that was part of a longer term reduction in crime, and those states WITH a death penalty dropped LESS than those without.
That particular stat actually tends to suggest that murder rates RISE with the introduction of capital punishment. That seems counter intuitive, but experts suggest that the fact that a murderer knows he faces the death penalty may induce more violent behavior to escape justice.
👍 110 | 👎 -5
You are correct - it's not even close - it costs taxpayers WAY more to execute a prisoner than to keep him incarcerated for life.
The numbers vary by state, but the main reason for the disparity is that the government wants to be as sure as possible that it does not execute an innocent person. Toward that end, much more is spent on pre-trial preparation (most DP cases take about a year to come to trial), more pre-trial motions, more expert witnesses (on both sides), more attorneys (also on both sides), jury sequestration, security (needed because of more publicity in DP trials), an extra sentencing trial, and an exhaustive appeals process (not to mention death row incarceration, which is way more expensive than regular maximum security).
This disparity becomes even greater when you consider the time value of money. Most of the additional costs of capital punishment are up-front, occurring before and during the trial itself, whereas most of the costs of life imprisonment are spread over the term of incarceration. Any first-year finance student (or lottery official) can attest that a dollar up-front is WAY more burdensome than a dollar spread over 30-40 years.
Some think the high cost of capital punishment is why violent crime rates are HIGHER in death penalty jurisdictions - every extra dollar spent (wasted) on capital punishment is one that's NOT going to police, education, drug treatment facilities, women’s shelters, and other government programs that help prevent crime.
Even with all of the legal precautions in place, innocent people STILL get sentenced to death pretty regularly. Since 1973 in the U.S., 138 people have been released from death row because they were exonerated by DNA and other evidence. These are ALL people who were found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Unfortunately, DNA evidence is not available in most cases. So, as long as the death penalty is in place, you are pretty much GUARANTEED to occasionally execute an innocent person.
Many would argue that is the highest cost of all.
👍 109 | 👎 -12
I don't think anybody would argue that the death penalty is "cost effective." The appeal process for capital cases is very lengthy and gets very expensive. This is a cost that places that have the death penalty accept as necessary though because the legitimacy of the death penalty rests on ensuring that everybody has faith that the legal system has run its course. Cost effectiveness isn't really a consideration.
👍 108 | 👎 -19
It would be amazingly cost effective if there was a time limit always attached to it. One would think that in five years, any appeals could be processed or new evidence found. I would think five years would be plenty of time for a murder/manslaughter/homicide trial appeal. And possibly one year for a treason appeal. Any other crimes should not really receive the death penalty.
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Originally Answered: Does the Death Penalty Cost more than Life in Prison?
Hey Xion, Death Penalty
The most severe of all sentences: that of death. Also known as the death penalty, capital punishment this is the most severe form of corporal punishment as it is requires law enforcement officers to kill the offender. It has been banned in many countries, in the United States, an earlier move to eliminate capital punishment has now been reversed and more and more states are resorting to capital punishment for serious offenses such as murder.
Read the complete essay here: