Tuesday, December 20, 2011

let us be clear: capital punishment is more expensive than life in prison sentences

just saw this article ("Jury finds Laurence Lovette guilty in murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson") and then a post on facebook is about the case.  the creator of the post and the commenters are happy the guy is caught, but want to see him fry (this is not a death penalty case because he was a minor at the time the crime was committed.).

one of the comments:
Bring back the firing squads! Bullets are cheaper than housing scum bags per year in prison! You kill...you die!

this argument for the death penalty gets me fired up every time.  regardless of being a proponent or opponent of capital punishment, it costs more than life in prison every time! i hate it when people argue this, it just isn't true.

these are the basic facts, from "Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis.":
  • The death penalty in the U.S. is an enormously expensive and wasteful program with no clear benefits. All of the studies on the cost of capital punishment conclude it is much more expensive than a system with life sentences as the maximum penalty. In a time of painful budget cutbacks, states are pouring money into a system that results in a declining number of death sentences and executions that are almost exclusively carried out in just one area of the country. As many states face further deficits, it is an appropriate time to consider whether maintaining the costly death penalty system is being smart on crime.
  • The nation’s police chiefs rank the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction. The officers do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder, and they rate it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime. Criminologists concur that the death penalty does not effectively reduce the number of murders.
  • Around the country, death sentences have declined 60% since 2000 and executions have declined almost as much. Yet maintaining a system with 3,300 people on death row and supporting new prosecutions for death sentences that likely will never be carried out is becoming increasingly expensive and harder to justify. The money spent to preserve this failing system could be directed to effective programs that make society safer.

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