Abolishing death penalty saves cash

John Dimsdale Mar 16, 2009
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Abolishing death penalty saves cash

John Dimsdale Mar 16, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: In Kansas today, senators debate a bill that would eliminate the death penalty. But it’s not the only one reconsidering the cost of putting defendants on death row. Just a few days ago, the New Mexico Legislature voted to repeal executions in favor of a life sentence without parole. Colorado and New Hampshire are also considering abolishing their death penalties, in part due to the expense. The economy may be changing how state governments measure justice, as Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports.


John Dimsdale: Last year, an Urban Institute study found that each death penalty case cost the state of Maryland $2 million more, due to extra hearings and appeals, juries and lawyers. The study’s author, John Roman, says death row security is also expensive.

John Roman: The daily cost of having them on death row is about three times what it is for a normal prisoner. And then they spend years on death row as the case goes through the appellate process and there’s all sorts of additional costs there.

Supporters of abolishing the Kansas death penalty say it would save $400,000 a case. But the state’s attorney general questions those savings. Ashley Anstaett is the Attorney General’s communications director:

Whether you’re going for a life sentence or a death sentence, there are still going to be significant appeals. And our attorneys get paid the same regardless of which case we go for. whether it’s a death sentence or a life imprisonment sentence.

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Besides, Anstaett says, cost should not decide matters of just punishment.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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