Mar 04 2013

Austerity Could End The Death Penalty

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Someone has finally found the argument that could finally put an end to the death penalty, it costs too much. In the age of austerity, the cost to the state of Maryland to litigate the appeal of inmates on death row is three times higher than the cost of life in prison without parole:

In its 2008 report, the (Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment) wrote that the average cost of prosecuting and imprisoning a Death Row inmate was $3 million, nearly three times higher than the cost of convicting and sentencing a murderer to life imprisonment. Of that $3 million, $1.7 million is spent in the courtroom and $1.3 million is spent in a Supermax prison, the commission wrote. [..]

The commission determined that the state spent $1.8 million dollars for every failed attempt to impose the death penalty, including $950,000 in prison costs and $850,000 in adjudication costs.

Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley said since the death penalty is not a crime deterrent and the exorbitant cost, it is time to end the death penalty in his state.

On Friday, the Maryland state Senate once again began debating a bill to repeal capital punishment in the state. It needs 24 votes to pass and 26 senators have already said publicly that they support the repeal.

Rather than funnel all of their focus into moral and social arguments, the bill’s supporters have been making their point partly in economic terms. The cost of prosecuting a death row case in Maryland can be as much as three times what it costs for a case seeking a life sentence without parole.

On Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes, Bryan Stevenson, founder & executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, professor at New York University School of Law, addressed how the savings could benefit public safety. He and Up host Chris Hayes were joined by panelists Mattea Kramer, the National Priorities Project; David Sirota, contributor to Salon.com; and Roberto Lovato, writer for New American Media, contributor to The Nation.


  1. TMC
  2. joe shikspack

    maybe a lot of states (and eventually the federal government) will get around to scrapping laws against victimless crimes as an austerity measure.  ending the ludicrous war on drugs would save billions of dollars by itself.  

  3. TMC

    prison costs by reducing penalties for drug possession. NY state has one of the most draconian and discriminatory drug laws on the books and an overcrowded prison population that they could no longer afford. The state legislature is finally changed the law to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and restored judges’ authority to send many drug offenders to treatment programs instead of jail.

    Mayor Bloomberg recently ordered that persons arrested for marijuana possession be issued a desk appearance ticket

    “But we know that there’s more we can do to keep New Yorkers, particularly young men, from ending up with a criminal record. Commissioner Kelly and I support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor and we’ll work to help him pass it this year. But we won’t wait for that to happen.

    “Right now, those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana are often held in custody overnight. We’re changing that. Effective next month, anyone presenting an ID and clearing a warrant check will be released directly from the precinct with a desk appearance ticket to return to court. It’s consistent with the law, it’s the right thing to do and it will allow us to target police resources where they’re needed most.”

    Gov. Cuomo wants to decriminalize the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana.

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