Death-Penalty Prosecution Costs

Whether for or against the death-penalty, taking into account the cost of prosecuting a death-penalty case is one factor that should not be overlooked. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal that discusses the cost struggle that counties have in prosecuting the death-penalty. In 1997 Utah was one of the first to create a risk pool which allowed counties to pay annually into and receive funding from in the event of a death-penalty case. Uintah County did not see the need to pay for this insurance until a police chief was shot to death in Roosevelt in July 2001. It was easy to make the decision to go for the death-penalty, then paying for the trial came into play. In August of 2001, Uintah County paid their share into the risk pool as insurance for their next death-penalty case.

To get funding to prosecute death-penalty cases, counties have higher taxes then counties that do not have death-penalty cases. There is also a worry on the other end that counties which do not have death-penalty cases are downgrading cases to avoid the high costs.

It is interesting to see that counties must have different values set for when it becomes beneficial to prosecute death-penalty cases. There are many factors that can increase and decrease these costs, including the support for or against the death-penalty.


Jacob said...

That is a very interesting article that you read. I think that there should be a fund set up for each county so that they could pay for the trial and cost of the death penalty in the event that they needed to use it. I would imagine that cost per household for the tax would probably be minimal and it would be an insurance against not having the money to pay for the potential costs.

Dr. Tufte said...

That's interesting. What an unusual application of insurance.

I wonder if there is a flip side - surely it must be expensive to imprison someone for life as well.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
It seems to me that in many cases the people that are in prison have more amenities than do poor people. I think one way we can cut costs is by not allowing so many amenities. Many of the prisoners eat better than most of the lower class. I think that we should make prison a place that you would not want to go back to. And concerning the death penalty I think they should be killed immediately and not be on death row or get any nice things such as a last supper. Once you take someone else’s life and disobey the law all your rights and privileges should be taken away.

Dr. Tufte said...

I wonder is some more thought about Type I and Type II errors might temper William a bit.