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March 7, 2011

'Death Penalty: Should Cost Be A Factor?"

The title of this post is the headline of this article from the Hartford Courant, which also reports on today's discussions by the Connecticut legislature as it is again considering a death penalty repeal bill.  Here are excerpts:

Should legislators consider the cost of implementing the death penalty when deciding whether to abolish it? That's one of the questions the legislature's judiciary committee pondered Monday at a hearing on repeal of the death penalty.

Susan Storey, the state's chief public defender, said the enormous cost of putting someone on death row in Connecticut ought to be considered by policy makers. Money devoted to prosecuting such cases would be far better spent on services supporting victims' families, she said.

But state Rep. Al Aldinolfi, R-Cheshire, said cost shouldn't be a consideration when meting out justice. Kevin Kane, the chief states attorney, said extra costs are brought on by death penalty opponents, whose only mission, he said, is "delay, delay, delay."

Lawmakers are considering repealing the death penalty going forward, which supporters say will not impact those currently on death row. But critics say repealing the law, if applied only for future cases, would not withstand a constitutional challenge. Under questioning, Storey acknowledged that her office would be ethically bound to fight on behalf of those currently on death row.

Barry C. Scheck, nationally known law professor and director of the Innocence Project, said there's "no doubt" capital cases are more expensive. But more importantly, Scheck said, money spent on death penalty cases means there's less money available for other criminal justice needs, such as better forensics testing. "Let's have an honest debate," Scheck told lawmakers....

Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of a 2007 violent home invasion in his Cheshire home, is a well-know death penalty supporter. But on this day he came to testify about the need to allow crime victims to deliver impact statements during the penalty phase of a capital trial. His wife and two daughters were murdered in the attack and arson. One man has been sentenced to death for the attack. A second awaits trial.

Also expected to testify Monday are Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Rosazza of Hartford and James Tillman, who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Some recent related posts on the costs of capital punsihment:

March 7, 2011 at 04:24 PM | Permalink


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The cost comes from the abolitionists. They come from appellate advocacy which does not enhance factual accuracy, but objects to errors of law, i.e. weasel loopholes. This is rent seeking, a synonym for armed robbery (taking tax dollars and returning no value. Try not paying taxes, an armed man will show up, and help you do so.) The remedy is not abolition which would reward a crime, rent seeking. The remedy is to restrict appellate procedures, and to assess legal costs of frivolous defense claims to the personal assets of the rent seeking abolitionist. Appellate judges that encourage abolitionist frivolous claims by any favorable ruling should be impeached. This second guessing by the legislature is long overdue supervision of an out of control, horrible, dictatorial, self-dealing, immune judiciary. Rapid, emergency, streamlined impeachment procedure should be enacted so a judge may be removed in 24 hours, then investigated more thoroughly later. The burden of proof should fall on the judge. These judges are crooks in rent seeking, and threats to the safety of everyone within reach of the murderer. Any judge releasing a prisoner should have adjoining residential property seized under Kelo, and a criminal halfway house started next door to where his family lives.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 8, 2011 4:28:03 AM

Yes, cost is a factor...Its not the legal communities money, its the citizens...Therefore LWOP suffices, much cheaper.....Serves the same purpose....Yes sometimes DP seems the answer, but for what costs....

Posted by: Josh | Mar 8, 2011 10:41:58 AM

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer: “Jailing, defending and prosecuting Ohio Death Row inmates costs taxpayers at least a half-million dollars and sometimes more than $1 million per inmate.” But every death sentence is much more expensive because, according to ABA, the success rate is only 10%: “Between 1981 and 2005, there were a total of 2,768 capital indictments from eighty-three of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties. (…) During the same time period, 289 capital defendants were sentenced to death in Ohio. (…) Based on the preceding figures of capital indictments in Ohio between 1981 and 2005, sentences of death were given 10.4% of the time.”
Try ten win one. This means that every capital sentence costs 5-10 millions and, because a substantial part of the sentences is repealed, executions are much more expensive.
So, assuming that grosso modo the total cost of 289 death sentences is 2 billions, we see that every one of the 40 Ohio executions cost 50 millions.
On the other side life costs nothing.
American Gulag is packed by two and half millions persons with an annual cost of 70 billions. If the 1.222 killed by the American justice would still alive there would be 2.501.222 persons in jails and prisons and the total cost will be the same.

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Mar 8, 2011 11:19:02 AM

Claudio, we need you to do a quick 20 min analysis of the debt incurred by the USA...You could affix us a budget with say 100-150 billion of cuts in it....USA needs it and I think you could dig out this info rather handily....But then we would be back with buisiness as usual....Congress won't act on it....How about the cost of Federal good time days, instead of the measly 47 or 54 days, (how ever you wish to express it, after the yr end of days off from a yr)say 40% of the time is cut..The sentences are already so gross, its half a lifetime for many...
Then compute that at what is the current rate, $27K/yr for being improsoned.....

I read yesterday that the Pentagon, doesn't even know which bills they have paid, yet alone to what vendor they really owe...DO we have a common theme here....The spending pasil that the Feds have is out of control... Now Obama wants $60 Billion for high speed rail...But Americans have cars, we aren't europe stranded with mountains on all sides....Oh well, got off the subject....

Posted by: Josh | Mar 8, 2011 11:52:15 AM

"On the other side life costs nothing."
You could not be more wrong. Murder trials without the death penalty cost a ton of money. You still need top-flight lawyers, security and expert witnesses for 1st degree murder trials. Murder defendants also get to file appeals, though there are less to file. Add in security, in some cases very high security for the next 50 years. Then add in medical care for elderly inmates. The last year of Susan Atkins life cost the state of California more than $1.5 million in medical care, hospital visits and a special detail of guards. That taken into account, it would have been cheaper to execute Susan Atkins back in the 1970's.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 8, 2011 11:56:03 AM

Forgot mabout the expense of the ageing, good catch Mike....No easy, quick fixs are there...

Posted by: Josh | Mar 8, 2011 1:29:11 PM

kill them all! There are 140.000 lifers in US prisons and 40.000 of them are LWOP. Kill them all! and do not forget those with long sentences! Make a chinese massacre!

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Mar 8, 2011 2:22:30 PM

When caught in an abject lie ("On the other side life costs nothing"), claudio, ever the moral scold of this site, refuses to apologize or even acknowledge it. Instead, he launches the usual table-pounding broadside, "Kill them all! and do not forget those with long sentences! Make a chinese massacre!"

Then he wonders why he's giving abolitionism a bad name.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 8, 2011 5:59:53 PM

Come on Claudio, admit you were wrong. The 'chinese massacre' nonsense is childish.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 8, 2011 7:36:25 PM

If the problem is cost, Russians were much more coherent.
No lifers in USSR: 30 years or a bullet in the head.
Actually death penalty is not about cost.
It’s about racism, politics, money, status.
Death penalty is nothing more than a legalized lynching.

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Mar 9, 2011 11:03:13 AM

Again, you're wrong. There is a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia and no one has been sentenced to death since the mid-1990's.

You say it is not about cost but why did you bring up cost in the first place?

If it's about racism, how do you explain the fact that the largest part of death row is White males?

What about the Whites who killed minorities who are on death row? What about the small number of wealthy men on death row?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 9, 2011 12:32:04 PM

I think you need to read some good books.
I suggest first a look here http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf
Hood Roger & Hoyle Caroline
The Death Penalty. A Worldwide Perspective. Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded.
New York. Oxford UP. 2008

Deathquest. III, An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States. 3rd Edition, Lexis Nexis, Anderson Publishing, Cincinnati USA, 2007

STREIB VICTOR Death Penalty in a Nutshell Third Edition St. Paul MN Thompson 2008

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Mar 9, 2011 3:45:15 PM

Have you read them? If you have read them, just state your argument. I'm not looking for a reading list.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 9, 2011 10:50:38 PM

I hate silly questions.
1 Death Penalty is about rights, not money: Americans talk of money, not me.
2 Do you remember communist Russia? Its name was Ussr.
3 “Capital punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment”
4 There are NOT wealthy men in the death row
5 80% of the executed had killed a white person and murders are inside the racial group: 249 black killed a white person and 15 white persons killed a black: nobody never from Texas.

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Mar 10, 2011 10:37:41 AM

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