Capital punishment does cost more. And most of the extra costs have to do with the lead up to trial, the trial itselt and the appeals process. Once a death row is built, it is there. Your argument about the costs of keeping a prison open doesn't help or hurt your argument. Although prosecutors are paid either way, these cases take so much of their time, and they need so many others working with them, a death penalty case does impact the expenses of a District Attorney and the county. Defense attorneys are not on staff and to the extent lawyers competent to handled these cases are hired, the expense in that much greater. What does matter about the costs is that the extra money spent on the death penalty system could be spent on victims services, crime prevention including better salaries for our overworked policemen. The other side is definitely correct. What you can argue, and some have, is that even though the death penalty costs more it is a good thing.
Apart from moral reasons that support one side or the other is the risk of executing an innocent person. 124 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. Many had already served well over a decade. If the appeals process were speeded up we would certainly be executing innocent people.
Some people think that the problem about innocent people being sentenced to death can be solved completely with DNA. Actually less than 10% of homicide scenes have DNA. It is not a guarantee we will not make a tragic, irreversible mistake.
I don't know your personal opinion about the death penalty. If you decide to go with the facts (not just opinion) you would do much better supporting life in prison without parole. Here are some reasons why.
Life without parole is available in 48 states. It means what it says. It is sure and swift,both required for a punishment to deter others. The death penalty is neither. Life without parole and the death penalty incapacitate a criminal (keep him from reoffending.)
The death penalty is not a proven deterrent. Homicide rates are higher in states that have it than in states that do not. Again, many death penalty supporters acknowlege this, but still believe the death penalty is needed as retribution.
If you can advocate for life without parole as the better choice for the most serious crimes, you will be with an increasing number of Americans. According to a Gallup Poll, in 2006, 47% of all Americans prefer capital punishment while 48% prefer life without parole.
Death Penalty Information Center reports on costs.
www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. - you will find cost info about specific states and counties- really amazing. Also Death Penalty Focus, www.deathpenaltyfocus.org - click on facts, costs, to see why the death penalty costs more.
Deterrence- www.deathpenaltyinfo and http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/s... the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2005. (As of now, only preliminary stats are available for 2006) Stats found here can be compared to stats on the number of executions in different states.
The Innocence Project, www.innocenceproject.org