How much does it cost to execute a death row inmate? - Criminal Justice Degree Hub - 2019

death rowThe 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.


Two thoughts on “How much does it cost to execute a death row inmate?”

  1. R.L says:

    How is it that we have a Congress who allows billions of dollars to be spent to kill one prisoner, but can’t find the funds to support America’s living: such as what is happening to the poor and needy section 8 program?

    It seems that our Congress can allow billions to be spent to take one life, but when it come to its living; they are not able to come together and spend billions to help make the lives of the living a little bit better.

    Could this be politics, or an ongoing war with the President of the United States. Was not this program created about 30 years ago, under the Nixon administration? And now 30 years later our Republican Congress is going to stand by and do nothing to keep Nixon’s candle burning bright!  What happen to the Congress, who was once for the people and by the people, or did that not include America’s poor and needy?
    May the Lord remember his poor and needy, and let us not be crushed under the wheels of this political (run away) locomotive

  2. T says:

    Why do we waste so much money on these people?
    Hubris is why criminals commit crimes – their own needs outweigh the victims’ and so they do what they will… and all tax payers are the victims.
    If the crime is captured on video and if there are numerous witnesses that then there shoujld be NO long wait for the death penalty. Use execution by hanging … you can re-use the rope so it is economical and you can make it a natural fiber rope so it is eco-friendly.
    Criminals should be forced to sustain their lifestyle… through their labor. No work = no eat.
    They take from our society and then keep taking by their existing on someone else's hard earned money. It is wrong.