No death penalty, more cash

October 22, 2009
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Proponents of abolishing the death penalty have argued for years it costs more to sentence someone to death and execute them than it does to have that person sit in prison for life. A report released this week is taking advantage of the current economy to re-emphasize that point in hopes to getting states to end the death penalty.

The Death Penalty Information Center’s report, which included a poll of police chiefs around the country regarding their thoughts about the death penalty and crime, argues states can save hundreds of millions of dollars by getting rid of death sentences. The report may catch the attention of legislators because what state isn’t looking for extra cash right now?

Numerous groups opposed to the death penalty have cited the extra costs associated with that sentence because investigations have to be more thorough, trials can take longer or be delayed, and often the death sentences are appealed. If a state can really save around $10 million or more, as the report claims by abolishing the death penalty, that’s money that can be put toward expanding jails, putting more police on the streets, or creating more crime-deterrant programs.

A study in California last year revealed the state spends nearly $140 million a year on the death penalty and hasn’t put anyone to death in four years. Florida spends $51 million a year on the death penalty. A study of New Jersey found it spent more than $250 million on the death penalty since 1983.

You may ask, what does a poll of police chiefs have to do with the death penalty? According to the DPIC’s report, most police chiefs ranked the death penalty last when asked to name one area as most important for reducing violent crime. The police chiefs also ranked the death penalty as the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money. They believe hiring more officers, community policing, neighborhood watch programs, and other methods would be more efficient uses of tax dollars.

Is the thought of saving millions of dollars going to be enough to convince states that executions should be ended? If that angle didn’t work before the economy tanked, is it the best argument death penalty opponents have right now?

You can view the report at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.
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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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