The pros and cons for the death penalty are numerous. From Biblical retribution, use as a deterrent, to moral justifications, the supporters and detractors of capital punishment have a litany of points to make on this controversial subject. One of the less contentious arguments is that the death penalty is less expensive than life in prison.
How true is that?
While the cost of the actual execution is minimal, the trial and appeals process is often long and costly. Most of the evidence shows that cases involving the death penalty cost more than life in prison.
Cost of Trial
Capital cases often take more time to try and many states require specialized attorneys.
The capital case requires more lawyers on both the prosecution and defense teams, more experts on both sides, more pre-trial motions, longer jury selection time, and a longer trial.”
Report of the Judicial Council Death Penalty Advisory Committee, Kansas
Executions are taking over 2.5 times longer in 2012 than in 1984. From sentencing to execution, prisoners on death row wait an average of 190 months or nearly 16 years.
Average time between sentencing and execution in months
The lengthy timeline is due to a long appeals process. While the photo on Capital Punishment Context seems simple, the laws are complex and appeals
“We try to maintain the apparatus of state killing and another apparatus that almost guarantees that it won’t happen. The public pays for both sides.”
Frank Zimring, JD