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Is the death penalty financially worth it? 

Alyssa Tyler copy editor  

The death penalty is arguably one of the most controversial topics in America. While its legality and practices vary from state to state, the idea of the state having the right to kill someone for their crimes turns some away. While some argue some crimes are so heinous that they deserve death. But when someone is sentenced to death, there is a long, costly process, where it has been found that the majority of the time, it doesn’t lead to the person found guilty to die from the death penalty. That leads some to argue, is the death penalty worth that cost of taxpayers money? 

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the average person on death row spends more than a decade waiting for either court rulings or finally execution. While the Department of Corrections states that housing inmates on death row cost twice as much as the general population. While not even looking at the cost of housing inmates, in 2010 a study done by the Defender Services Judicial Conference of the United States found the average cost of a death penalty trial was found to be $620,932. Which is around 8 times more than the average cost of a federal murder charge where the death penalty is not sought.  

Obviously, if the state is arguing for the right to kill someone, it needs to make sure that everything has been done correctly. And that they are sure of the person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, more attorneys will be on the case, and more expensive testing, among other things as well, will help jack up the rate. But how many people who are sent to death row end up dying from their death sentence? 

According to the Washington Post, “from 1973 to 2013, 8,466 sentences of death were handed down by U.S. courts, and 1,359 individuals were executed — only 16 percent. Even excluding those who remained on death row as of 2013, only about 24 percent of condemned inmates have been executed. Those sentenced to death are almost three times as likely to see their death sentence overturned on appeal and to be resentenced to a lesser penalty than they are to be executed.” 

Also arguably, looking at cases of those who were innocent but executed, even one innocent person being executed is one too many. According to the Montana Innocence Project, “More than 170 people have been exonerated in the United States after serving time on death row.” Humans are due to error, which as hard as people try cannot be avoided. While writing this article, I do think that some people truly deserve the death penalty. However, as humans, we cannot avoid error, and I would rather avoid killing one innocent person, then get the satisfaction of killing a guilty one.  

So essentially, as a country state by state, more money is being spent on prosecuting and defending these death penalty cases, without the death penalty being used. Therefore, although it wouldn’t give the same “satisfaction” of sentencing someone to death, giving someone life without parole, would be the best route.  

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