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October 26, 2009

"Budget kills Hinds capital cases: DA says Hinds can't afford death-penalty prosecutions"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable local article from Mississippi.  Here are excerpts:

The Hinds County district attorney's office had been considering the death penalty against the suspects in the two unrelated [brutal murders] but now says, because of budget issues and other factors, seeking capital punishment in case of a conviction is now off the table.  "We won't be doing as many of those (death-penalty cases)," District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said.

Hinds County cut about 70 jobs, delayed the opening of a jail expansion, denied departments' requests for new equipment, scaled back on contracted services such as janitors, and left less than $179,000 in reserve for the budget year that began Oct. 1.  The cuts were necessary because the proposed revenue of $56.3 million for fiscal 2010 was outweighed by estimated expenses of $57.2 million, officials said.

Death penalty cases are more expensive than others. When there is a death-penalty case, the jury is sequestered in a hotel and provided meals during the duration of a trial.  Longtime Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn estimates the cost at more than $15,000 for a death-penalty trial, depending on factors such hotel and meal costs.  The cost of a non-death penalty case would be significantly lower, she said. Another additional cost is the use of expert witnesses.

This article effectively spotlights how the high costs (and the uncertain benefits) of seeking capital justice is helping to slowly kill the death penalty in many jurisdictions.

Some recent related posts on the costs of capital punsihment:

October 26, 2009 at 09:27 AM | Permalink

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Comments

If there can be bailouts for gigantic, dishonest banks; for inefficient and bloated car companies; and for the rapacious real estate industry, there can be a relatively quite modest bailout for Hinds County.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2009 11:26:31 PM

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