Friday, March 07, 2008


A Definitive Cost Study

When the presidential nominees give their speeches after a primary has been completed, they typically begin by thanking the state they are in. "Thank you Ohio." "Thank you Iowa." etc. etc. Today, I would like to say from Nashville, "Thank you Maryland." The Abell Foundation, located in Baltimore, funded a definitive cost study conducted by the Urban Institue, "a national, nonpartisan research organization in Washington."

The study concluded that the death penalty "has cost Maryland taxpayers at least $186 million more in prosecuting and defending capital murder cases over two decades than would have been spent without the threat of execution." "The study estimates that the cost of reaching a single death sentence costs the state an average of $3 million, which is $1.9 million more than a non-death penalty case costs, even after factoring in the long-term costs of incarcerating convicted killers not sentenced to death."

The article that covered the release of the study gets into greater detail about how these figures were determined. I found the methodology to be highly logical. I implore you to read the article by CLICKING HERE.

"Although groups in many death penalty states have analyzed the cost of such cases, the Urban Institute's Maryland study is the first to statistically control for factors that might otherwise make a capital case more expensive," said Andrew Davies, a researcher with the New York State Defenders Association, which in the 1980s completed the first such study. "The argument goes that ... death penalty cases might be worse or more heinous cases, so that even if they weren't death penalty cases, they still would be more expensive," he said. "But in this study, they've isolated the pure effect of the death penalty on inflating the cost of cases." I'd also like to point out that the study did not include "costs associated with federal court proceedings in state capital cases."

Studies like these are paramount in showing citizens and their leaders that the death penalty is a costly and ineffective public policy. Maryland has come very close to getting abolition legislation on their legislature's floor in the past. This study should help that effort out significantly. This study also reaffirms my annoyance that the death penalty is justified even though it is a terrible public policy. We must place the same magnifying glass on the death penalty as we place on all other forms of public policy.

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