Death Penalty Costs Diverting Money from Urgent Criminal Justice Needs

On March 3, Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC discussed how economic concerns are shifting more attention to the high costs of capital punishment. Guest Bryan Stevenson (left), Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, described how the millions of dollars spent on the death penalty could be used elsewhere: “Maryland’s [death penalty repeal] bill actually will give money and resources to the families of people who’ve lost loved ones. California’s bill was actually directly aimed at helping to solve the 34% of homicides that aren’t resolved in an arrest, 46% of rapes that aren’t resolved in an arrest, mostly in poor and minority communities. I think if you’re concerned about public safety, these economic arguments actually make links that we have to make.” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was quoted, urging state legislators to the repeal the death penalty, saying, “The death penalty is expensive and it does not work and we should stop doing it. In Maryland, the cost of prosecuting a death row case can be as much as three times what it costs for a case seeking a life sentence without parole.” Watch the full interview.

(K. Koenig-Muenster, “The left’s austerity strategy for the death penalty,” Up With Chris Hayes,, March 3, 2013). See Costs.