The Cost Of The Death Penalty Essay — страница 2

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found that, nationwide, the average cell cost is $24,000 per year and the average maximum-security cell cost is $75,000 per year (www.prodeathpenalty). Illustrating how statistics are made to fit the agendas, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a leading anti- death penalty organization, claims that, in Texas, a state known for its liberal use of the death penalty, it would cost three times as much to execute someone than to incarcerate them for forty years at the maximum cell cost (www.essential). The DPIC cites a cost of $2.3 million to execute in Texas. $75,000 per year for maximum-security costs multiplied by forty years equals $3.0 million. This use of numbers and math add to the controversy by enabling both sides to give strong, if somewhat wrong, arguments.

Capital trials are much larger, more tedious, and much more expensive at every step than other murder trials. Pretrial motions, expert witness fees, jury selection and the necessity of two trials per Gregg v. Georgia make capital trials extremely costly, even before the appeals process begins. Also, if the person is given a sentence of life in prison, the state pays the cost of the incarceration on top of the expensive trial. A single trial can mean near bankruptcy, tax increases, and the laying off of personnel such as police officers. New Jersey, for example, laid off more than 500 police officers in 1991 (www.essential). At the same time, it was implementing a death penalty which would cost an estimated $16 million per year, more than enough to have the same number of officers

at a salary of $30,000 per year. The irreversibility of the death sentence requires courts to follow heightened due process in the preparation and course of the trial. The death penalty costs California $90 million annually beyond the ordinary costs of the justice system- $78 million of that is incurred at the trial level (www.essential). The high price of execution is most deeply felt in the counties responsible for both prosecution and defense of capital defendants. For example, Okanogan County Commissioners in Washington delayed pay raises for the county?s 350 employees, decided not to replace 2 of 4 public- health nurses and put a hold on updating computers across the county because of anticipated death penalty trial costs (www.essential). In Imperial County, California, as

well as Lincoln County, Georgia, the county commissioners refused to pay the bill for defense costs of men facing the death penalty, citing that the costs would bankrupt the county. Commissioners are more and more frequently sent to jail for failure to pay. Similar to what occurred in New Jersey, in Sierra County, California, authorities had to cut police services to pursue death penalty prosecutions (www.religioustolerance). Right now, there are more people on death row than at any time in the nation?s history. The number of states having death penalty as an option continues to increase, while the list of states actually carrying out executions has grown to over twenty with four new states added each year. With the enormous costs to try, convict, incarcerate, handle appeals and

execute these inmates, many people are searching for alternate means of dealing with these criminals. There are several possible alternatives to the death penalty. Some are taken from current state practices, some from practices used in the international community, and even those once deemed unconstitutional, which may deserve a second look. The first of those alternatives is community policing. Community policing is a strategy for utilizing police officers not just as people who react to crime, but as people who solve problems by becoming an integral part of the neighborhoods they protect. Opponents of capital punishment say that such programs area a cost- effective way to deter crime. The programs work best when governments can afford to add officers, rather than taking from

existing numbers, leaving other areas unattended. Another alternative would be to reinstate the mandatory death sentences for specific crimes, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1976. If mandatory minimums and ?3 strikes? are constitutional and are used for offenses such as drugs, which are relatively minor to crimes such as murder, than maybe mandatory death sentences should be given a second look. Imposition of the death penalty is extremely rare. Since 1967, there has been one execution for every 1600 murders, or .006%. As the New York Times noted in 1994, even if U. S. executions were multiplied by a factor of 10, the would still constitute an infintesimal element of criminal justice ( There have been approximately 500,000 murders and 358