Trend Against Death Penalty Grows
posted Josh Goodman There is new momentum against the death penalty in state government. Death sentences are declining, the New Jersey legislature passed a death ...
posted Josh Goodman
There is new momentum against the death penalty in state government. Death sentences are declining, the New Jersey legislature passed a death penalty moratorium yesterday and a group of prosecutors is pushing a similar bill in California.
Most of the arguments about the death penalty haven't changed (Is it ethical? Is it a deterrent? Is it discriminatory?) So it is telling that legislative action in New Jersey came only after a report highlighted the financial costs of sentencing convicts to die.
The report, published by New Jersey Policy Perspective, said that the state, since 1982, has spent $253 million more on its death penalty system than it would have by sentencing prisoners to life in prison without parole. During that time, New Jersey didn't actually execute anyone, but the state's justice system piled up bills nonetheless.
No lawmaker would be so cynical as to say that an ethical decision as weighty as whether to put convicts to death should be based primarily on dollars and cents. It stands to reason, however, that if the death penalty is costing states money, the operative question ceases to be, "Is there a moral imperative against it?" and becomes, "Is there a moral imperative for it?" That shift in the burden of proof may be turning some policymakers against the death penalty.
Of course, if states wanted to save money, they could streamline their death penalty systems, cutting down on oversight and appeals. But, considering that more than 100 death row prisoners have been exonerated since 1973, and that Texas appears to have executed an innocent man in 1993, almost no one is willing to contemplate that option.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
EPA Nominee May Revoke Some of California's Power to Fight Climate Change13 hours ago
With Obama Leaving, Congressional GOP Moves to Gut D.C.'s Progressive Laws13 hours ago
Affordable Housing Required for Every Town, Rules New Jersey Supreme Court13 hours ago
Where Climate Change Isn't a Partisan Issue13 hours ago
Why Maine's Governor Thinks Civil Rights Leader John Lewis Should Thank White Men13 hours ago
'Divisiveness' Drives Texas Mayor to Resign After Just 1 Month13 hours ago