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Scrutiny
  
Too costly to kill?
The death penalty, besides being a question of morality, is also becoming a question of cost. But the cost of crime must also be considered
01/09/2011

James Ellis, Chief Criminal Judge, Oregon put forward the point quite succinctly, “Whether you’re for it or against it (capital punishment), I think the fact is that Oregon simply can’t afford it.” The rising cost of capital punishment is becoming a ground reality across the world; thus forcing nations to reconsider it.

According to the California Commission, the entire infrastructure behind an execution system costs $137 million per year, but a system without the death penalty costs only $11.5 million in California (as per 2008 data). A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas noted that the estimated cost of an execution case ($1.26 million) was 70% more than the cost of an analogous non-execution case ($740,000). As per the Urban Institute (2008), the cost of execution cases amounts to almost 3 times more as compared to non-execution cases in Maryland. Similar comprehensive studies are not readily available in other countries, but the fact that the death penalty is considerably more expensive is amply clear. Most costs relating to capital punishment occur prior to and during trial; not in post-conviction proceedings as the trial period becomes too lengthy over the time for execution. As per the Florida Department of Corrections, the average length of stay on death row prior to execution is 12.68 years.

However, this doesn’t nullify the relevance of death sentences, as it’s also important to calculate the cost of crime to a nation. According to Georgetown University Professor of Public Policy Jens Ludwig, the cost of crime to the US economy is around $2 trillion per year. Once the deterrent value of capital punishment, along with other severe penalties, becomes less than that kind of cost, countries may reconsider. Clearly, that is not the case today!

By:- Mrinmoy Dey
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