March 4th, 2009
12:20 PM ET

We can’t afford the death penalty

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New America Media
Lance Lindsey

From California to New York, dozens of newspapers are declaring that state governments can no longer afford the death penalty.

The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., recently reported that the death penalty is too costly. Maryland spent $37 million per execution in the past 28 years. In Florida, home to the second largest death row in the country, the cost estimates are $24 million per execution. California’s cost is $250 million per execution, according to a Los Angeles Times article cited in the report. These states are among 36 states that have the death penalty and, like nearly every state, are going through a financial crisis.

The outrageous price that taxpayers bear in order to kill a handful of prisoners has been thrown into sharp relief.

Legislators in New Mexico, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Montana, New Hampshire, and Colorado are now calling for a repeal of capital punishment, not only to help balance budgets but as a necessary first step in redirecting scarce resources toward genuine public safety measures such as investigating unsolved homicides, community policing, modernizing crime labs, expanding mental health services and other more effective crime prevention programs.


Filed under: Death penalty • Economy
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jacki Matthews

    Perfect irony. State authorized killing, enforced when someone....kills. Thats hard to believe that our beautiful, free country condones it.

    March 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  2. jen

    I for one, have never been for the death penalty, no matter the crime. But. . . we need changes made to the system. If we became a society that actually cares about others and not just about oneself, the number of prisoners would decrease. If we actually focused on education, rather then only focusing on education when they are behind bars, less people would be entering them. People have told me for years that I need to give up on dreaming. I guess now is the time to stop! With this economic mess, I am only hearing, "why do I have to pay more?" or "what about ME?" If I'm lucky enough, I might be able to hear once a week (okay that's pushing it!) , "Did you hear that so-and-so got help!?!" Lets get to the bottom of the issue on why majority of the crimes are being committed and get focused on how to do better so they don't need to take that step. Can we, even for a day, stop with the egotistical attitude and think of others before ourselves?

    March 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Luis

    Capital Punishment is the last deterrent we have against violent people.

    Are you telling me a person who had every opportunity he had in life, to not commit the crime, had a chance of a trail, the right to appeal his conviction deserves a second chance?

    The liberals are for abortion, a baby that never a chance in life but letting criminals and murders get a second chance. What? Something is wrong you with guys.

    If you want them to be free, go to a jail and ask the prisoners to live in your home. Let see how safe you feel. Ok? Then come back and tell me.

    March 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  4. Melissa

    What a nasty excuse to try to get rid of it. They'd rather pay for murderers and rapists to live their entire lives in prison, giving them a chance to eventually be set free than end the problem once and for all.

    Instead of years and years of waiting, why not finish it sooner?

    March 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  5. Sandra

    It wouldn't cost so much if they enforced the Death penalty sooner, instead of years and years of appeals. The victims never got a second chance.

    March 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  6. Mrs. Neo, New York City

    The whole law enforcement system is out of order. So many people were on death row before DNA exonerrated them, something should have been done then. I hate criminals but until this system gets itself together we cannot halfhazardly put people to death especially at such a high expense. Why is it so expensive? Just this week someone said that police have a quota to meet, that speaks volumes. Another corrupt system.

    March 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  7. Michael C. McHugh

    I'm the first to say that we lock up too many people in this country–more than any other Western country by far. For 30 years, one of our biggest "domestic programs" has been more prisons and more police. I hope that Obama is going to be smarter in dealing with these huge problems, especially in the inner cities.

    As for the death penalty, I favor it in certan cases, such as terrorists, war criminals, serial kilers, and so on. At least, I have no moral objection to it, depending on how bad the case is, although I'm also aware that innocent persons have been sentenced to death.

    March 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  8. Nita

    I don't understand why the cost is so high. Good though, anything to do away with this form of punishment. I don't know that it does anything to decrease crime rates.

    March 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm |