The death penalty costs what?

I’ve been opposed to the death penalty on the grounds that we seem to be sentencing a lot of innocent people to death. According to the ACLU “more than 100 prisoners convicted of capital crimes and sentenced to death were released from death row with strong evidence of their innocence.” Since that’s the case, why not just put these people in prison for life? It’s still a horrible punishment for criminals but gives us the chance to release them later if new evidence surfaces.

There is the cost argument against life imprisonment. It should certainly be cheaper to kill someone than feed and house them in prison for the rest of their lives. But boy is that assumption wrong!

According to the organization, keeping inmates on death row in Florida costs taxpayers $51 million a year more than holding them for life without parole. North Carolina has put 43 people to death since 1976 at $2.16 million per execution. The eventual cost to taxpayers in Maryland for pursuing capital cases between 1978 and 1999 is estimated to be $186 million for five executions.

Perhaps the most extreme example is California, whose death row costs taxpayers $114 million a year beyond the cost of imprisoning convicts for life.

(h/t Balloon Juice)


  1. Andrea

    Additionally, the Supreme Court has resisted re-opening death penalty cases which have new DNA evidence because ultimately, those on death row no longer have equal rights to prosecution:

  2. Ian

    Where is your objective justice now?