Originally posted by Jonna
I fail to see how that is possible. Please provide your source for believing this.
I'd be glad to
Some of the sources come from books I physically own - they can be obtained very cheaply anywhere, and probably online a lot
cheaper....and now I think about it, you could probably find excerpts or the entire texts online if you looked for them.
"A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of conviction and appeal for capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the
cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000." (Punishment and the Death Penalty,
edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum 1995 p.109 )
"Florida calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost $17000/year, a comparable statistic for
life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000."
(The Geography of Execution... The Capital Punishment Quagmire in America, Keith Harries and Derral Cheatwood 1997 p.6)
In addition (and again, the sources used can be verified independantly, as I'm sure people will balk at the use of Amnesty International's
"A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death
penalty case. Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted
through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).'
Now, having noted these facts, it's important to realise:
The majority of increased costs relate to pre-trial and trial proceedings (not the appeals process, contrary to popular belief - this is probably the
cheaper part of the entire process), not the act of execution itself. In addition, the simple act of having the death penalty in place
tremendous burden on State budgets (whether or not it's used).
So there's some figures. Currently, the death penalty as used by the US is not just not cost-effective (from a purely pragmatic point of view);
though it might be argued that if it were used more frequently, related costs would fall.
As it stands, however, it's cheaper to house a prisoner for 40-odd years than it is to execute him.