Cost of Capital Punishment

Essay by tabatha212006University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2010

download word file, 4 pages 5.0 1 reviews

Sentencing a defendant to death costs more money than sentencing him or her to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Most people do not realize the amount of money capital punishment costs a state. If someone were asked which costs more, the death penalty or life in prison, most people tend to answer life in prison. The truth is sentencing a person to death includes more than just the trial and the execution. Sentencing a person to capital punishment includes the cost for the trial, appeals processes, collecting and processing evidence, hiring expert witnesses, staffing a death row facility, and finally execution (Logan, n.d.).

Trials for capital punishment cases cost much more than any other trial. Capital cases are more expensive because the trials tend to take longer, they typically require more lawyers and more-costly expert witnesses, and they are very likely to lead to multiple appeals (Urbina & Smith, 2009).

Once a District Attorney decides to pursue a capital case, the court, attorney, and evidence fees all rise. The judge presiding over the trial must appoint an additional attorney for the defendant. The attorneys must hire expert witnesses to review and testify on the evidence presented and examine the defendant's background.

These expert witnesses include psychologists, evidence experts, or pretrial investigators. The pretrial investigators locate and interview anyone who may offer testimony that can serve as mitigating evidence (Costanzo & White, 1994). These people may include family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and teachers. Psychologists will reconstruct the defendant's personal history to explain his or her crime or state of mind when the said crime was committed. Evidence experts are hired to testify to the jury about whatever type of evidence was tied to the crime. For example, if there was blood or forensic evidence at the...