The Cost of the death penalty to taxpayers


The typical cost of safeguarding a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the capital punishment is not looked for. A research study found that those accuseds whose representation was the least expensive, and hence who received the least amount of attorney and expert time, had actually an increased likelihood of getting a death sentence. Offenders with less than $320,000 in regards to representation expenses had a 44% possibility of getting a death sentence at trial.

On the other hand, those defendants whose representation expenses were greater than $320,000 had only a 19% opportunity of being sentenced to death. Thus, the study concluded that accuseds with low representation expenses were more than twice as likely to get a death sentence (DPIC, 2012).


The financial cost to taxpayers of capital penalty is several times that of keeping someone in jail for life. The independent variable would be Capital penalty is a number of times that of keeping someone in prison for life.

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The reliant variable would be the monetary expense to taxpayers.

Background: The Cost of the Death Penalty

Concerns about cost emerge in varying ways depending on the jurisdiction. In California, where prosecutors have secured a significant number of death sentences over the years but a confluence of forces has prevented their culmination in executions, the death-row population has swelled to almost seven hundred inmates. Critics thus point to the extraordinary expense of housing the state’s death-row population, with one recent article indicating that death-row incarceration costs the state an additional $90,000 per inmate, per yearPenalty,”1″ and, more succinctly, “Save $1 Billion in Five Years End the Death Penalty in California.

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” Other states with few executions have likewise faced criticism about the costs of capital litigation given such a limited return in terms of executions. In Kentucky, a recent article indicated that over a third of the current death-row inmates in the state had been on death row over two decades, and the state had carried out only three executions over the past forty years; the article began by observing that “Kentucky is spending millions of dollars each year on a capital punishment system so ineffective that more death-row inmates are dying of natural causes than are being executed.”

Similar concerns were voiced in Maryland, which came close to abolishing the death penalty last year, given a 2008 study indicating that the state spent at least an additional $37.2 million for each of the state’s five executions in the modern era (2010 U. Chi. Legal F.119- 120 (2010). The cost from the capital sentencing law upon other aspects of government was one of the subjects recently addressed in a comprehensive report issued by the Indiana Criminal Law Study Commission, pursuant to the request of former Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon and the Legislative Council of the Indiana General Assembly. Based upon an analysis of 84 cases in which the death penalty was requested by the prosecution, the Commission estimated that government costs for the imposition and execution of each “Typical” death sentence is $667,560. In contrast, the Commission estimated that in a “Typical” life-without parole case in which the death sentence was never sought, life without-parole was imposed as the maximum possible sentence, and the offender dies of natural causes during imprisonment 47 years later, the total cost is $551,016.

The difference, $116,544, indicates that the cost of a “Typical” capital case is 21 percent greater than the cost of a “Typical” life-without-parole case and its resulting incarceration (Brent, E. D. (2006)). The most definitive study on this subject that I am aware of was done by two professors of public policy at Duke University and released in 1993.They studied the costs of every death penalty case in North Carolina in 1991 and 1992. According to my calculations based on this data, since there are now almost 3,000 people living on death row throughout the U.S., and if each is executed, it will cost the U.S. $9 billion to accomplish this herculean task. Since life imprisonment for these 3,000 would cost $3 billion, the extra cost to the nation is $6 billion (McCloskey, J. (1996)). Texas has the largest death row population in the country-367 inmates as of February-and issues the largest number of execution warrants each year, the report found.

The report recommends, among other things, that the state pay half the costs of providing two lawyers for indigent defendants in capital cases at trial and on direct appeal and pay all of the costs for two defense lawyers in state habeas proceedings. It also calls for the payment of a minimum fee of $100 an hour. Douglas Robinson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who handled the post-conviction appeals of one Texas death row inmate, said the report’s findings mirror his experience with the system. The ruling was affirmed last year by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which noted in its decision that the defendant’s court-appointed trial lawyer was paid $11.84 an hour. “Unfortunately, the justice system got only what it paid for,” the appeals court said (Hansen, M. (1993)).

Research Design:

I will be using a randomized experiment model because random assignment is used. A completely randomized design, which is the simplest type of the basic designs, may be defined as a design in which the treatments are assigned to experimental units completely at random, that is the randomization is done without any restrictions.


Data Collection:

DPIC. (2012, February 19). Death penalty information center. Retrieved from Gottschalk, M. (2011). Life sentences and the challenges to mass incarceration. Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies, (11), 7-VII. Retrieved from Dickson, B. E. (2006). EFFECTS OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM: Reflections of
a state supreme court justice. Judicature, 89(5), 278-281. Retrieved from 2010 U. Chi. Legal F. 119-120 (2010) Costs and Capital Punishment: A New Consideration Transforms an Old Debate; Steiker, Carol S.; Steiker, Jordan M. Retrieved from McCloskey, J. (1996). The death penalty: A personal view. Criminal Justice Ethics, 15(2), 2-2, 70+. Retrieved from Hansen, M. (1993). Death penalty system in turmoil. ABA Journal, 79, 32-32. Retrieved from

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The Cost of the death penalty to taxpayers. (2016, Dec 24). Retrieved from

The Cost of the death penalty to taxpayers

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