Would Abolishing the Death Penalty Save Money?February 25th, 2009 by josh farley
All this talk of the $8 billion shortfall we face as a state will undoubtedly lead to conversations about the death penalty.
In several states — especially Maryland, Montana and New Mexico — bills are being considered to end the death penalty, and with it capital punishment’s seemingly endless appeals process, reports the New York Times. We chronicled this merry-go-round of sorts in a special report in November. Such appeals, and all the lawyers and paperwork therein, rack up lots of taxpayer money.
But how much?
The Urban Institute, a think tank, puts the cost of a murder case here the death penalty isn’t pursed in the state of Maryland at about $1.1 million, according to a 2008 study. It puts a “capital-eligible case in which prosecutors unsuccessfully sought the death penalty,” at $1.8 million, “and a capital-eligible case resulting in a death sentence will cost approximately $3 million.”
“In states where the death penalty is the maximum punishment, a larger number of murder defendants are willing to plead guilty and receive a life sentence. The greater cost of trials where the prosecution does seek the death penalty is offset, at least in part, by the savings from avoiding trial altogether in cases where the defendant pleads guilty. Although this effect is well known to people working in the field, there appears to be no prior study to determine the actual size of this effect.”