The Economic Effects of the Death Penalty

download (11)The death penalty is a phrase that conjures many arguments. It is a problem for many states as it is a controversial subject. A person who is sentenced to die by lethal injection or hanging can cost the state, and the country, a significant amount of money. However, many people do not discuss this problem at length. Instead, they tend to concentrate mainly on whether the person sentenced to die is innocent or guilty. Whatever the verdict, the death penalty is wreaking havoc on the country’s economy.

Every state in America suffers economically when a prisoner is put to death. Let’s take the state of Kansas as the first example. According to a study conducted by the Kansas Judicial Council, defending a capital punishment case costs approximately four times the amount as defending a case where the death penalty is not sought. For example, between the years of 2004 – 2011, death penalty cases cost Kansas approximately $396,000 while only $98,000 cost for cases where the death penalty was not sought. Even the costs incurred during the trial of a death penalty case cost the state approximately $72,000 while only $21,000 was spent on trials without the death penalty.

In Idaho, capital cases cost more money and took more time than non-capital cases. For example, a public defender, in Idaho, spent 44 times more time a death penalty case than on a non-death penalty case. Trials with capital cases took about 20.5 months to reach a verdict while non-capital trials took only 13.5 months.

In Colorado, capital cases took six times longer in court than cases of life without parole. Lawyers of capital cases spent that much more time in court defending their clients. An average of 147.6 days was spent in court for capital cases while only 24.5 days were spent in court for non-capital cases.

Capital punishment is in effect because the government believes it to be effective. The government believes, there is less crime in America because of the threat of the death penalty. And the crime rate soars as we speak! What adds the cost to death penalty cases? There are complex pretrial motions, many days spent on jury selection, and significant expenses on expert witnesses. The expenses of the trials are irrespective of whether a death penalty will be awarded. If it is not awarded, the states have to spend some more money on imprisoning a prisoner for life. All these have to be borne by the tax payers.

Many things can happen because the cost of the death penalty cases is borne by the tax payers. For example, the state can increase taxes. This leaves tax-paying citizens with less disposable income. The cost can also result in scaled down government services. Policemen, road maintenance workers, fire fighters are all working for the government. So, when the government scales down its services, this can result in unemployment. Unemployment can lead to a recession, which in turn, leads to an economic crisis.

So, does the death penalty have an impact on the economy of the country? Yes!! Without a doubt, it costs the country millions and, if not acted on right away, can lead to a grave economic problem.

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