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
Death penalty trials are more expensive for several reasons: They often require extra lawyers; there are strict experience requirements for attorneys, leading to lengthy appellate waits while capable counsel is sought for the accused; security costs are higher, as well as costs for processing evidence " DNA testing, for example, is far more expensive than simple blood analyses.
After sentencing, prices continue to rise. It costs more to house death row inmates, who are held in segregated sections, in individual cells, with guards delivering everything from daily meals to toilet paper.
In California, home to the nation's biggest death row population at 667, it costs an extra $90,000 per inmate to imprison someone sentenced to death " an additional expense that totals more than $60 million annually, according to a 2008 study by the state's Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice.
In Kansas, Republican state Sen. Caroline McGinn is pushing a bill that would repeal the death penalty effective July 1. Kansas, which voted to suspend tax refunds, faces a budget deficit of nearly $200 million. McGinn urged fellow legislators "to think outside the box" for ways to save money. According to a state survey, capital cases were 70 percent more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases.
In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson recently said his longtime support of capital punishment was wavering " and belt-tightening was one the reasons. As the state tries to plug a $450 million budget shortfall with cuts to schools and environmental agencies, a bill to end executions has already passed the House as a cost-saving measure. The state supreme court has ruled that more money must be given for public defenders in death penalty cases, but legislators have yet to act.
In Maryland, a 2008 Urban Institute study said taxpayers forked out at least $37.2 million for each of five executions since the death penalty was re-enacted in 1978. The survey, which examined 162 capital cases, found that simply seeking the death penalty added $186 million to prosecution costs. Gov. Martin O'Malley, who disdains the death penalty on moral and financial grounds, is pushing a bill to repeal it
I would suggest that the proper approach is to address the reasons why it is so costly.
The appeal process that is satisfactory for someone sent to prison for life is satisfactory for someone sentenced to death.