Another Perspective on the Death Penalty


This from the AP:

After decades of moral arguments reaching biblical proportions, after long, twisted journeys to the nation’s highest court and back, the death penalty may be abandoned by several states for a reason having nothing to do with right or wrong. Turns out, it is cheaper to imprison killers for life than to execute them, according to a series of recent surveys. Tens of millions of dollars cheaper, politicians are learning, during a tumbling recession when nearly every state faces job cuts and massive deficits. So an increasing number of them are considering abolishing capital punishment in favor of life imprisonment, not on principle but out of financial necessity. “It’s 10 times more expensive to kill them than to keep them alive,” though most Americans believe the opposite, said Donald McCartin, a former California jurist known as “The Hanging Judge of Orange County” for sending nine men to death row. However, of the nine convicted killers McCartin sent to death row, only one has died—and not by execution, but from a heart attack in custody. “Every one of my cases is bogged up in the appellate system,” said McCartin, who retired in 1993 after 15 years on the bench. “It’s a waste of time and money. The only thing it does is prolong the agony of the victims’ families.” Death penalty trials are more expensive because they often require extra lawyers with specific experience requirements; security costs are higher; and evidence processing (such as DNA testing) is far more expensive than simple blood analyses.

I’m cool with doing away with the death penalty, for a variety of reasons, and this is just one more of them.


  1. Laurie on March 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I’m surprised to hear that, I’m one of those who thought it was the other way around, but I never considered all the extra cost for the trials.

    I agree it’s a strange reason to want to do away with the death penalty, but in a way it’s a better reason than some I’ve heard.

  2. Laura on March 27, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I agree with their reasoning…Interesting

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