On June 1, a unanimous jury in a federal death penalty prosecution in New York voted to impose a life sentence on Vincent Basciano, an organized-crime leader who had earlier been convicted of murder, racketeering, and conspiracy. The prosecutors’ lead witness against Basciano was Joseph Massino, a former crime boss who agreed to cooperate with the government in order to escape a death sentence for his own crimes. The federal government sought the death penalty for Basciano, who was already serving a sentence of life without parole, despite a request from the trial judge who asked the Department of Justice to reconsider seeking the death penalty because of its high costs and the likelihood that Basciano would spend the rest of his life in prison regardless of the outcome. At the time of the judge’s request, the case had already cost taxpayers $3 million, and the ultimate bill was estimated to be as high as $10 million. After a short deliberation, the jury opted for life without parole because they did not believe the prosecutors’ arguments that Basciano posed a future threat and because other crime figures convicted of worse crimes did not get the death penalty.

(“Jury Does Not Give Federal Death Sentence,” ABC News, June 1, 2011). See Arbitrariness, Costs, and Federal Death Penalty. Although the federal government has sought the death penalty in over 30 cases in New York, only one resulted in a death sentence, and that was overturned. New York no longer has a death penalty statute of its own.