Troy Davis execution highlights high cost of death penalty
In light of Georgia’s plans to go through with the execution of Troy Davis at 7:00 p.m. EST tonight, despite the recantation of seven of the nine witnesses that originally testified against him and the worldwide appeals, death penalty opponents also cite the high cost of executing inmates as a reason for pause.
“The refusal…by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Troy Davis clemency underscores the vast systemic injustices that plague our death penalty system,” Denny LeBoeuf, the director of the Capital Punishment Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement. “The death penalty system in the United States is arbitrary, discriminatory and comes at an enormous cost to taxpayers, and it must be ended.”
Instances of doubt, such as the case of Troy Davis, first and foremost highlight the grave cost of taking the life of a man who has continued to proclaim his innocence since the start of his prosecution. But additional housing and prosecutions costs, especially heavy in death penalty cases, add up in cash-strapped states that continue to use the death penalty. In California, keeping an individual on the maximum-security death row costs $90,000 annually per inmate, and with the state’s current death row population of 670, the cost is $63.3 million annually, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The cost of the entire system in California, including prosecutions and court cases, is $137 million per year — if the number of crimes that encompass the death penalty were narrowed, a report by the Center notes, the cost of the system would narrow to $130 million per year.
The Federal Office of Defender Services found that defending a murder trial in which the death penalty is sought — an average of $620,932 per prisoner — is eight times that of a murder case where is it not sought.