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AG holds first criminal justice summit on death penalty costs

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In what was the first of its kind in Indiana, the state Attorney General’s Office held a criminal justice summit at the University of Notre Dame this month to examine the critical issues the legal system faces from capital cases where the death penalty is utilized.

The day-long session at the South Bend campus was held Nov. 15. The following day, part two of the AG’s program focused on mortgage foreclosures. The criminal justice summit theme brought law students, attorneys, judges, academics, and policymakers together to consider how Indiana is impacted by the costs of capital punishment cases.

With the trial stage often taking a couple years or more, the appellate process in state and federal courts can stretch 10 and beyond, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. Though the Indiana Public Defender Commission reimburses counties half of the dollars spent adjudicating these cases, the high cost of death penalty cases has the potential to severely burden cash-strapped counties – especially those outside the larger urban areas of the state.

“So it is time that we in the criminal justice system have a candid conversation about the economic impact of capital punishment in Indiana,” Zoeller said. “I don’t claim to know the answers; but as state government’s lawyer sworn to uphold the laws of Indiana, I hope we can trigger a frank discussion of these questions. We serve the crime victims and our constituents – the taxpayers – best if we confront a problem directly and objectively.”

About 75 people attended the seminar that doubled as a free Continuing Legal Education session, and brought in prosecutors and defense attorneys as well as lawmakers and other states’ criminal justice officials to discuss the issues. Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan spoke about his experience handling death penalty cases since the early 1990s, while a Rutgers University economics professor discussed a grant-funded study on the fiscal consideration of the death penalty in Indiana.

You can read more in-depth coverage on this topic in future issues of Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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