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August 6 2010 | UNITED STATES


Cost issues of the death penalty

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Associated Content

Cost Issues of the Death Penalty

Francesco Carbone

When it comes to the death penalty, oftentimes people underestimate its true costs. In fact, it costs less to keep an inmate in prison for a life sentence then it does to kill them. For example, if maximum sentences

were given out rather than death sentences, the annual costs would only be $11.5 million. On the other hand, the California Commission estimates the annual cost of our current death penalty system to be around $137 million. They also estimate that if reforms recommended by them to ensure a fair process were enacted, the costs would be around $232.7 million (Death Penalty Information Center, 2008). Simply put, the death penalty is extremely expensive. This leads to the assumption that if people knew about it, they would not stand for it. However, the problem is that many people do not know about the cost issues. As John M. Bailey, Chief's State Attorney of Connecticut states, "Every dollar we spend on a capitol case is a dollar we can't spend anywhere else... We have to let the public know what it costs [to pursue a capitol case] (Death Penalty Information Center, 2008)". This quote addresses the point that the public is unaware of the outstanding death penalty costs in our country.

To me, this is unbelievable. Honestly, I knew it was expensive, but I had no idea that it cost more than a life sentence in prison. I think that if more of the public really knew how much capitol punishment affected them, they would be more inclined to disapprove of it. I personally disapprove of capitol punishment, not only because of its high annual cost, but also because it has never been proved effective as a general deterrent. It never really made sense to me that our country teaches us that killing is bad by killing people. Solving violence with violence is not necessarily the best way to send the message, in my opinion.

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