How much does the death penalty cost and the cost of life in prison?
How much more does one cost over the other, which one costs more?
- Susan SLv 710 years agoFavorite Answer
Study after study has found that the death penalty is much more expensive than life in prison. The point is to avoid executing innocent people. The tremendous expenses in a death penalty case apply whether or not the defendant is convicted, let alone sentenced to death.
Examples- trial costs (death penalty and non death penalty cases, California):
People v. Scott Peterson, Death Penalty Trial
$3.2 Million Total
People v. Rex Allen Krebs Death Penalty Trial
$2.8 Million Total
People v. Cary Stayner, Death Penalty Trial
$2.368 Million Total
People v. Robert Wigley, Non-Death Penalty Trial
This data is for cases where the best records have been kept.
• more pre-trial time will be needed to prepare: cases typically take a year to come to trial
• more pre-trial motions filed and answered
• more experts will be hired
• twice as many attorneys will be appointed for the defense, and a comparable team for the prosecution
• jurors must be individually quizzed on their views about the death penalty, and they are more likely to be sequestered
• two trials instead of one will be conducted: one for guilt and one for punishment
• the trial will be longer: a cost study at Duke University estimated that death penalty trials take 3 to 5 times longer than typical murder trials
The numbers vary from state to state, but they all point in the same direction. From a fairly typical state study of the costs of the death penalty:
“The study counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1.26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost. The investigation costs for death-sentence cases were about 3 times greater than for non-death cases. The trial costs for death cases were about 16 times greater than for non-death cases ($508,000 for death case; $32,000 for non-death case).” (Kansas: Performance Audit Report: Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases: A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections