Recession Kills Death Penalty
One bright light in all these economic woes - states are realizing that it's cheaper to incarcerate a prisoner for life than to put them to death. Death penalty advocates have always argued that a single shot from a needle is "pennies per prisoner" justice, but that is light years from the truth and states are finally getting the picture.
"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. In 2007, time and money were the reasons New Jersey became the first state to ban executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1972. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine commuted the executions of 10 men to life imprisonment without parole. Legal costs were too great and produced no result, lawmakers said. After spending an estimated $4.2 million for each death sentence, the state had executed no one since 1963. Also, eliminating capital punishment eliminated the risk of executing an innocent person.Go here for an interactive version of the map below. Texas has executed 431 prisoners since 1976, the most of any state. Far behind at #2 is Virginia with 98. The death penalty was declared unconstitutional in New York in 2004 and the state has not executed anyone since 1963 - so the color-coding on this map is wrong.
Out of 36 remaining states with the death penalty, at least eight have considered legislation this year to end it — Maryland, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, New Hampshire, Washington and Kansas — an uncommon marriage between eastern liberals and western conservatives, built on economic hardship. "This is the first time in which cost has been the prevalent issue in discussing the death penalty," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a data clearinghouse that favors abolition of capital punishment.