costs of executing a death row inmate vary by state. In all states the cost of
execution is considered very extravagant and usually climbs the scale into the
millions of dollars. A lot of states simply cannot afford the death penalty.
There are a couple of reasons that the costs of keeping an inmate on death row
is so expensive.
Executing an inmate on death row
costs considerably more than sending an inmate to prison for life or more
without the possibility for parole. The
reason for this is that the inmates on death row are guaranteed a long and very
thorough judicial process by the Constitution. This is done so that the
chances of executing an innocent inmate are minimized.
What actually ends up costing so
much is the actual prosecution and defense of death row inmates over the course
of their time in prison and on death row. Trials involving inmates that have
been sentenced to the death penalty require very experienced and often expensive
lawyers. Additionally, DNA testing is frequently used and is also very costly.
Another reason the execution of death
row inmates costs so much is that some of the inmates spend decades waiting for
the death penalty to be administered. This is because of the extended
trial process involved and the length of the appeal process. They spend their
entire stay on death row in special buildings separated from other prison
populations. These special buildings
require additional upkeep and more guards. In the long term, this costs states
millions more a year than they would have paid had these inmates been sentenced
to life imprisonment instead.
Examples of these extravagant
death row expenditures are not hard to come by.
For instance, in the State of North
Carolina inmates on death row have cost the state over one billion dollars more
than inmates not on death row since 1976. In Texas, one death penalty case costs
the state about 2.3 million dollars. This is three times higher than what it
would cost to imprison one inmate in the highest security prison cell available
for 40 years. $2,300,000 / 3 = $766,667 / 40 = $19,199.67 p.a. ???
All in all, states spend millions if not
billions of dollars and huge chunks of their budgets on executing death row
inmates. Certain states, such as New Jersey, have either banned the death
penalty or are considering it because they just cannot afford the exceedingly
increasing costs of housing death row inmates or the costs of their trials.
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