This week I am going to discuss the death penalty with more of a statistical approach, and by doing so hope to answer the following question: in a country that is drowning in debt, is the death penalty an economically sustainable option?
According to the NC coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, based on a 2010 Duke University study,
“On average, defending a capital case costs four times as much as a first-degree murder trial in which the defendant faces a maximum of life imprisonment.”
The large amount of money needed for an execution comes from an extensive appeals process, and the time and money that accompany a capital trial. This study focused on many aspects of the costs, including the finding that about $11 million of taxpayer money would be saved each year by the state of North Carolina with lifetime imprisonment of capital offenders instead of their death.
It is interesting to note as well that this study focused on the years between 2006 and 2009, and between 2007 and 2008 there were no executions performed in the state of North Carolina, suggesting that this amount of money may be even higher in years that executions did actually occur.
A different publication by the Santa Clara University came to similar conclusions, when it stated,
“executing a single capital case costs about three times as much as it costs to keep a person in prison for their remaining life expectancy, which is about 40 years.”
What do you guys think about this? Does the monetary effect of this ethical issue hold any weight? Do you think that the death penalty can be justified as economically sustainable?