Reducing Death Penalty Costs

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Reducing Death Penalty Costs
Delisa Richardson
Missouri Western State University
July 19, 2012

Abstract
In this paper, I will be evaluating the death penalty in the United States and ways that costs can be cut to make it much more of a viable option. "Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present system $137 million per year (California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, 2008). What does an individual death row inmate get for millions of tax payers’ dollars you ask? This includes; housing, garments, meals, health care, mental care, pre-trial and trial, unlimited appeals and petitions. I think that the limit for appeals at the state level should be only 3 appeals and 2 at the federal level. If an inmate knew how many state and federal appeals they had before they were done, we wouldn’t see a waste of appeals on frivolous things. This would cut legal costs and free up the courts dockets a little more by not allowing death row inmates to appeal over every little thing.

Reducing Death Penalty Costs

Although the total accumulated cost of the death penalty sentence does vary from state to state one thing can be said; it is extremely exorbitant. "Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present system $137 million per year (California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, 2008). What does an individual death row inmate get for millions of tax payers’ dollars you ask? This includes; housing, garments, meals, health care, mental care, pre-trial and trial, unlimited appeals and petitions. Why would a public defender object or his boss for this matter object to getting their bills paid by the tax payers’? There needs to be stricter legal and privilege guidelines for death row inmates and attorneys that defend them. If prison systems would make stricter guidelines and regulations for death row inmates then costs would go down exponentially. There needs to be limitations on how many times a death row inmate can appeal and petition their case. I think that the limit for appeals at the state level should be only 3 appeals and 2 at the federal level. If an inmate knew how many state and federal appeals they had before they were done, we wouldn’t see a waste of appeals on frivolous things. This would cut legal costs and free up the courts dockets a little more by not allowing death row inmates to appeal over every little thing. These continuing moves that are plaguing our legal system which has increased the average duration of their stay on death row. If the number of appeals is not a good solution then only allow appeals that are relative to their case in proving their innocence. Check out the chart and look at the increase in length of death row durations we have seen over the last three decades. [pic](Death Penalty Information Center, 2012).

Another way to cut costs for death row inmates is to shorten the time in between sentencing and execution. By limiting the number of appeals a death row inmate is allowed will significantly shorten their wait to be executed. As the graph above shows, in 1984 there were only 74 months wait between sentencing and execution. In the years to follow, the length of time between sentencing and execution grew exponentially to 178 months in 2010. That is almost 15 years for an inmate to accrue legal fees through unlimited appeals that they do not have to pay for. The length of time that U.S. inmates spend on death row has gotten increasingly longer in recent years, and raises questions about the constitutionality of this added punishment (Death Penalty Information Center, 2012). When an individual is sentenced to a death penalty sentence, they are automatically entitled to unlimited appeals and the tax payers are going to pay for this through taxes. The inmates have at their disposal almost...
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