Friday, May 30, 2008

Floridians spend an estimated $51 million a year to retain our Death Penalty system above the cost of permanent incarceration

Whether you believe in the death penalty or not here is yet another lost opportunity ($51 million) that the Florida legislators missed in their blind zeal to balance the budget. They would much rather show us how “macho” they are by killing someone rather than using that money to help sick children or the mentally ill. Add the $51 million to the $350 million for prison beds and you can see just how concerned they are about people in need.

FLORIDA EXECUTION: Florida's next execution is scheduled for July 1st. With almost 400 people in our Death House, Florida has the second largest Death Row in the U.S. For a complete list, see: While Floridians spend an estimated $51 million a year to retain our Death Penalty system above the cost of permanent incarceration, victims’ services are being cut-back, crime prevention programs are being disbanded and thousands of murders and violent crimes remain unsolved. For a growing number of Floridians, the fight to end executions is not about is about priorities.
FMI: Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Take Action Now: Write Gov. Crist and Florida’s Attorney General to express your strong opposition to lifting Florida’s moratorium on executions.

Office of Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Email the Governor
Executive Office of the Governor Switchboard: (850) 488-7146

Office of Attorney General Bill McCollum
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Switchboard: (850) 414-3300

1 comment:

dudleysharp said...

The pure deception in some cost "studies" is overt.

It has been claimed that it costs $3.2 million/execution in Florida.

That "study" decided to add the cost of the entire death penalty system in Florida ($57 million), which included all of the death penalty cases and dividing that number by only the number of executions (18).

One could just have easily stated that the cost of the estimated 200 death row inmates was $285,000 per case.

Furthermore, an equal calculas would be to say that it costs $10 million dollars per life without parole case in Florida, as there are an estimated 1000 lifers in Florida and when the first lifer dies, you roll all of the costs of all of those 1000 cases into the first lifer to die and say, so far, it has cost $10 million for only one life sentnece so far.

That is the exact same calculas used for the ridiculous executions costs.

see below

Cost Comparisons: Death Penalty Cases Vs Equivalent Life Sentence Cases
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

In comparing the cost of death penalty cases to other sentences, the studies are woefully incomplete.
Generally, such studies have one or more of the following problems.
1) Most studies exclude the cost of geriatric care, recently found to be $60,000-$80,000/inmate/yr. A significant omission from life sentence costs.
2) All studies exclude the cost savings of the death penalty, which is the ONLY sentence which allows for a plea bargain to a maximum life sentence. Such plea bargains accrue as a cost benefit to the death penalty, such benefit being the cost of trials and appeals for every such plea bargain. The cost savings would be for trial and appeals, estimated at $500,000 to $1 million, which would accrue as a cost benefit/credit to the death penalty.
Depending upon jurisdiction, this MIGHT result in a minimal cost differential between the two sanctions or an actual net cost benefit to the death penalty, depending upon how many LWOP cases are plea bargained and how many death penalty cases result in a death sentence.
3) FCC economist Dr. Paul Zimmerman finds that executions result in a huge cost benefit to society. "Specifically, it is estimated that each state execution deters somewhere between 3 and 25 murders per year (14 being the average). Assuming that the value of human life is approximately $5 million {i.e. the average of the range estimates provided by Viscussi (1993)}, our estimates imply that society avoids losing approximately $70 million per year on average at the current rate of execution all else equal." The study used state level data from 1978 to 1997 for all 50 states (excluding Washington D.C.). (1)
That is a cost benefit of $70 million per execution.  15 additional recent studies, inclusive of their defenses,  support the deterrent effect. 
No cost study has included such calculations.
Although we find it inappropriate to put a dollar value on life, evidently this is not uncommon for economists, insurers, etc.
We know that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers. There is no doubt that executions do save innocent lives. What value do you put on the lives saved? Certainly not less than $5 million.
4) a) Some studies compare the cost of a death penalty case, including pre trial, trial, appeals and incarceration, to only the cost of incarceration for 40 years, excluding all trial costs and appeals, for a life sentence. The much cited Texas "study" does this.  Hardly an apples to apples cost comparison.
       b) see florida at top 
5) There is no reason for death penalty appeals to take longer than 7 years. All death penalty appeals, direct and writ, should travel through the process concurrently, thereby giving every appellate issue 7 years of consideration through both state and federal courts. There is no need for endless repetition and delay. This would result in a reduction in both adjudication and incarceration costs.
Judges may be the most serious roadblock in timely resolution. They can and do hold up cases, inexcusably, for long periods of time.  Texas, which leads the nation in executions, by far, takes over 10 years, on average, to execute murderers. However, the state and federal courts, for that jurisdiction,  handle many cases. Texas has the second lowest rate of the courts overturning death penalty cases. Could every other jurisdiction process appeals in 7-10 years. Of course, if the justices would allow it.
6) The main reason sentences are given is because jurors find that it is the most just punishment available. No state, concerned with justice, will base a decision on cost alone. If they did, all cases would be plea bargained and every crime would have a probation option.
1). "State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder", Paul R. Zimmerman (, March 3. 2003, Social Science Research Network,
copyright 2003-2008 Dudley Sharp
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.