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December 19, 2014

"Six Reasons the Death Penalty is Becoming More Expensive"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective piece from The Marshall Project whihc served as something of a companion piece to its effective coverage (noted here) of how localities struggle with the economic realities of pursuing capital cases.  Here are excerpts:

We know the basic reasons why death penalty cases are expensive: more lawyers, more experts, more time. Prosecutors and defense attorneys often spend more than a year preparing for death penalty trials. Every successful conviction is appealed to several state and federal courts, meaning the government pays for both prosecutors and defenders to pick over the trial transcript and for judges and clerks to spend hours reading appeals. While this is going on, it costs more to house prisoners on death row than in the general population....

But the death penalty is also growing more expensive with each passing year. A 2010 report prepared for the Judicial Conference of the United States found that between 1989 and 1997 the median cost of a federal death penalty case that went to trial was $269,139; between 1998 and 2004 it had grown to $620,932.

Nobody has methodically studied how costs have been growing in state death penalty cases, but in interviews with more than 30 prosecutors, defense attorneys and other experts the consensus was that costs are going up fast. Here are the main reasons they cited:

1. Attorney Pay...

2. Experts...

3. Unpredictability...

4. Mitigation...

5. Juries...

6. Housing...

A few recent and older related posts:

December 19, 2014 at 09:10 AM | Permalink


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Expensive in various ways. When you are a citizen of the Great State of Texas and you croak you will get your interview at the Pearly Gates. Basically there are three tubes which they send you down after the interview and the decision by Saint Peter is made: Heaven, Hell or Limbo which is a suburb of Saint Louis called Florissant.

If you are from Texas the first thing they ask is how you voted and where you stood on Capital Punishment but they call it "killing by the people". No weeny words like Capital Punishment. If you lie then you go to Hell. If you worked for the Governor like this Perry guy or another killer then you go to Hell. If you opposed killing then if you pass other tests you go to Heaven. If you were neutral you go to Limbo.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 20, 2014 11:11:19 PM

Lib: You drinking again? Snap out of it. This is not a children's blog.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 21, 2014 12:26:47 PM

Lawyer rent seeking explains the current situation, one that maximizes it. If you end all false appellate games, the rent goes down. If you abolish the death penalty, many, many lawyers immediately lose their jobs, and $billions are saved by the taxpayer.

The murder rate in prison could then rise to substitute for it. Many more people are murdered in prison than are executed. The authorities could now begin to orchestrate the murder of those deserving it. The verdicts of guards and inmates are far more valid than those of judges, anyway.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 21, 2014 12:33:31 PM

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