How much does it cost to execute someone?


The actual cost of executing the prisoner. (Including everything the day of the execution).

3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    Not very much. The biggest costs of death penalty cases are at the pre trial and trial stages. And those costs are enormous, making the death penalty far more expensive than life in prison with or without parole.)

    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

    $454,000 Total

    This data is for cases where the best records have been kept.

    Some factors:

    • 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)

  • 8 years ago

    Very little. The cost would go down if the capital and operating costs were distributed over a much wider clientele, i.e., execute 3,000 prisoners on "death row" using the same electric chair multiple times per day and keep the costs down with volume discounts on lethal injections. The guards and facilities would be considered sunk costs, meaning you're paying for them whether or not they do anything.

  • 8 years ago

    Around $250,000.

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