Monday, March 21, 2011

The human cost of ending the death penalty

One of the arguments that I've heard people make against the death penalty is that it is too costly.  Without actually looking into the facts, this argument always struck me as unconvincing.  You're telling me that it is more expensive to execute someone than it is to provide him shelter, food, and medical care for decades?

Well, earlier this month, Illinois repealed the death penalty, and the news today is that this will lead directly to the loss of 37 state jobs in the Office of the State Appellate Defender.  Most of the affected are lawyers who handle death penalty appeals.  This will save Illinois taxpayers $4.7 million in year one, and more in the future after the agency gets a chance to downsize its office space.

Some thoughts.

1)  A while back, we discussed the crisis in funding for public defenders.  As a partial solution I proposed "fewer crimes," on the theory that if we had fewer crimes we would need fewer public defenders.  Apparently "fewer punishments" also works.

2)  This is another good reason for a libertarian-minded person to be against the death penalty.

3)  On the other hand, perhaps instituting the death penalty is good for the economy, since it puts people to work?

1 comment:

  1. More than $127k per attorney? That is a pretty significant hunk of cash for govt. work. No wonder Illinois is in the fiscal straits it is in.


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