Since the arrests for the murders of families in Minneapolis and Long Prairie, I have heard a lot of talk about reinstating the death penalty in Minnesota.
Believe it or not, there is even an argument to show the thrifty population that it does not pay. I continuously hear that taxpayers don't want to pay to keep a prisoner for life when they could just pay to have them executed, saving tax dollars.
The state of Florida spends $3.2 million dollars on an execution, while imprisonment for life would cost them $600,000. The joint Legislative Budget Committee of California published this statement in 1999: "Elimination of the death penalty would result in a net savings to the state of at least several tens of millions of dollars annually and a net savings to local governments in the millions to tens of millions of dollars on a statewide basis." These costs are not incurred as many people think, by the appeals process, but are incurred prior to, and during trial. Because a capital case has a two phase trial, even if all post conviction proceedings were abolished, the death penalty would still be more expensive. Records of capital cases indicate that the majority of these costs are incurred by the prosecution.
There is also no scientific evidence that the death penalty is a crime deterrent. On the contrary, the FBI Uniform Crime Report Division's publication Crime in the US, reports that the murder rate in states without the death penalty is 5.1 per 100,000 while states with the death penalty hold a rate of 8.2 per 100,000.
If it isn't cost effective and doesn't deter crime, what are we looking for? Our system is supposed to be one of justice, not vengeance.
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