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April 15, 2009

"The cost of capital punishment"

The title of this post is the headline of this editorial against the death penalty appearing in today's Boston Globe.  Here are snippets:

It may be too soon to call it a trend, but two states have abolished the death penalty in the past three years, and 10 others have legislation pending. States and voters are reconsidering capital punishment, and many have a new reason: money....

A recent study by the Urban Institute found that an average death penalty trial costs a state about $2 million more than a murder trial where no death penalty is sought.  The Death Penalty Information Center estimates that keeping an inmate on death row costs $90,000 a year in extra security. Almost every state is facing a deficit, and getting smart about corrections budgets is an unexpected side benefit.

Abolitionists will take whatever argument they can, but money isn't the only, or the best, reason to stop executions.  The death penalty is not a deterrent to most deadly crimes. It is applied unevenly.  It places the United States among the world's most brutal regimes. And there are 130 other reasons: the 130 death-row inmates who were exonerated by new evidence. Their deaths would have carried an awful price tag.

April 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM | Permalink


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That Globe editorial is ridiculous on one point--the 130 "exonerees" weren't all exonerated by new evidence. They cannot even get their propaganda straight.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 15, 2009 12:12:09 PM

Colorado's state house voted to repeal capital punishment in the state today. Per the Denver Post:

"Colorado's death penalty took one step toward the grave Wednesday as lawmakers in the state House gave initial approval to a bill that would end capital punishment and use the savings to solve cold cases. . . . In the end, five Democrats joined Republicans in opposing House Bill 1274, but it wasn't enough to kill the legislation.

House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, the bill sponsor [is] . . . pitching his bill as a way to reduce state expenses and increase public safety by helping to put away some of Colorado's 1,400 unconvicted murderers. . . .

The state has killed one convicted murderer in four decades. Two more men remain on death row.

Legislative analysts estimate the legislation could save Colorado about $800,000 a year and put $883,000 a year toward solving cold case murders."

The third reading in the House is set for Thursday. Then, if it passes, it goes to the State Senate which has a more even partisan divide, and would then have to survive the veto pen of Governor Ritter, the former Denver DA who is not morally opposed to the death penalty, but also a strong Catholic, who used the death penalty in liberal Denver where juries were unlikely to support it, sparingly, who is in a budget strapped state.

Legislators in Colorado are also considering a bill to downgrade the sentence for all class 3 and lower non-violent felonies which are not sex offenses (class 1 includes capital murder, class 2 includes second degree murder and also certain drug kingpin drug offenses) to the sentence of the next lower grade of offense, bringing sentences to 1984 levels.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Apr 15, 2009 8:18:45 PM

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