COSTS: New Investigation Says Florida Spending Over $1 Million per Death Row Inmate

A newspaper’s investigation into the costs of the death penalty in Florida revealed the state is spending as much as $1 million per inmate just for incarceration and appellate costs. Trial costs would add substantially to the state’s total. Florida has over 400 inmates on death row. For example, keeping J.B. Parker under the special security of death row for 29 years has cost taxpayers $688,000; his appeals cost $296,000, for a total of $984,000. The total for Alfonso Cave has been $1,059,750. Both men remain on death row. Those figures do not include salaries for judges, prosecutors and clerks handling the cases. Shortening the appeals carries the risk of mistake. Neal Dupree, head of one of the appellate offices for death row inmates noted, “People need to know that just because someone has been convicted does not mean they are guilty,” he said. Larry Spalding, who had been head of one of the appellate offices, added: “The most important thing we know about false convictions is that they happen and on a regular basis.” Spalding said. “(Appellate) attorneys … are trying to exonerate the innocent, and to prevent a wrongful execution. They should be admired, not excoriated.” Florida has had more exonerations from death row (23) than any other state in the country.

(M. Holsman, “Cost of Florida’s death row easily exceeds $1 million per inmate, investigation shows,” Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, October 8, 2012). See Costs. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Costs.