Doing the Numbers

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of doing a presentation at Vol State with SueZann Bosler. SueZann is in town today and tomorrow to tell her amazing story of healing and forgiveness for the man who murdered her father, and nearly killed her, and she’ll be speaking at four or five campuses in these two days. More about SueZann’s trip will certainly be forthcoming, but during the final section, when I talked a little bit more about the facts and figures regarding the death penalty, I was explaining the exorbitant costs of the death penalty system and how any real look needs to include all the cases where a death sentence in handed down and then overturned or where a death sentence is sought but not handed down. Because those are all the costs of our death penalty system. In Tennessee we’ve handed down over 200 death sentences but only had 2 executions since reinstating the death penalty in 1977.

Lo and behold, an email arrived in my in box this afternoon, just a few hours after getting back, sending me to an op-ed in the New York Times written by a judge in New York talking about the same thing! It’s a terrific and really educational piece that I think we all need to read to understand all the costs of the death penalty. Read it here.

And I just always want to add a statement which I think we all need to remember: budgets are moral documents. When we decide to spend over $1,000,000,000.00 in Tennessee on our death penalty system, we are saying that those two executions that we’ve carried out are more valuable to us than a billion dollars of education, victim’s services, or treatment for the mentally ill. And that is the truth in dollars and sense.

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