Monday, November 28, 2011

The Economic Harm of the Death Penalty

One of the biggest reasons why the death penalty should be removed from our justice system is the economic cost it has on our country. Many would think that just executing someone would be much more inexpensive then having them spend the rest of their life in prison because of costs of food and shelter, but this just is not true. When it comes to the money, the cheaper option would be too have them spend the rest of their life in prison. If you do not believe me, pay close attention to a few specific examples on the economic harm of the death penalty in certain states. Research done by Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center concludes that “The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life. Taxpayers have paid more than $250 million for each of the state’s executions.”(Dieter 4). Dieter also states that “In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.”(Dieter 4). One final statistic from Dieter states that “Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each execution.”(Dieter 4). These three are only a few statistics that show how harmful the death penalty is on our economy. If gotten rid of completely, our states would be saving millions each year. In short, the effects that the death penalty has on our economic situation are devastating and the death penalty should be banned from use in the United States.

Not only is the fact that the death penalty costs our states so much money astounding, the budget and job cuts due to the high price of the death penalty are very important. Too many people have lost their jobs or have had to struggle because of the enormous cost of the death penalty. For example, an excerpt taken from research done on the death penalty by Richard Dieter states that “Where studies have been done, the excess expenditures per year for the death penalty typically are close to $10 million per state. If a new police officer (or teacher, or ambulance driver) is paid $40,000 per year, this death penalty money could be used to fund 250 additional workers in each state to secure a better community....”(Dieter 12). This quote shows that not only does the death penalty cost our states more money than life in prison, but it also leads to job cuts in professions that we desperately need as many people as possible in. Cutting 250 police officer jobs in each state because of a system that does not even do what it is supposed to do is outrageous. 250 jobs in each state being cut in areas like teaching and policing is unacceptable. In this day and age the demand for these types of jobs is rising and there is becoming a shortage of these professionals anyway. Who would want to become a police officer or a teacher if they knew their jobs could be cut at any time? This will just lead to more shortages in areas in which we need as many qualified people as we can get. Overall, the effects that the death penalty has on our government spending and job market are awful. The death penalty needs to be removed as a punishment in our justice system before we run out of people who dream of becoming police officers and teachers one day.

Source Citations:

"Capital Punishment Is Too Expensive to Retain" by Richard C. Dieter. The Ethics of Capital Punishment. Christine Watkins, Ed. At Issue Series. Greenhaven Press, 2011. Richard C. Dieter, "Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis," Death Penalty Information Center, October 2009. Copyright © 2009 by Death Penalty Information Center. Reproduced by permission.

Facts About the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. N.p., 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. <>.

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