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Cost of the Death Penalty

“When Gov. Martin O’Malley appeared before the Maryland Senate last week, he made an unconventional argument that is becoming increasingly popular in cash-strapped states: abolish the death penalty to cut costs.”

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article titled “Citing Cost, States Consider End to Death Penalty.”

Read the article by CLICKING HERE and be sure to check out the graphic.

More highlights:

“The economic realities have forced even longtime supporters of the death penalty, like Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, to rethink their positions.

Mr. Richardson, a Democrat, has said he may sign a bill repealing capital punishment that passed the House last week and is pending in a Senate committee. He cited growing concerns about miscarriages of justice, but he added that cost was a factor in his shifting views and was “a valid reason in this era of austerity and tight budgets.”

My favorite highlight:

“Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, an organization in Sacramento that works on behalf of crime victims, called the anticipated savings a mirage. He added that with the death penalty, prosecutors can more easily offer life sentences in a plea bargain and thus avoid trial costs.

But Eric M. Freedman, a death penalty expert at Hofstra Law School, said studies had shown that plea bargaining rates were roughly the same in states that had the death penalty as in states that did not.”

Here in Tennessee, we are spending millions on our death penalty system while we have viable alternatives like life without parole and life in prison (51 years before parole eligibility). Like other states, we are in a budget crisis and the death penalty is a black hole of spending that will continue to cost this state millions of taxpayer’s dollars.

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