US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Death penalty walking . . .

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Could the high-cost of state sponsored killing finally prove the undoing of capital punishment? A parade of exonerated death row prisoners has been enough to at least lead to moratoriums in some states. Others have never reinstated the death penalty or recently elected to abolish it on moral grounds.

But a new effort to end the death penalty in America is at least in part being propelled by a new rationale: fiscal responsibility. The argument is at the heart of a recent LA Times editorial, that, while deploring the morality, capriciousness, and unfairness of capital punishment, notes:

"We find it shocking and depressing that California keeps hundreds of people locked up for decades awaiting execution at an estimated additional cost of $63.3 million per year(over and above the normal cost of incarceration) when it could save more than 90% of that by scrapping the system entirely and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole."

The New Mexico House of Representatives voted February 11 to repeal the death penalty, and Maryland is considered an abolition being sponsored by its Governor Martin O'Malley. 

According to The New York Times : "Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic who has cited religious opposition to the death penalty in the past, is now arguing that capital cases cost three times as much as homicide cases where the death penalty is not sought. 'And we can’t afford that,' he said, 'when there are better and cheaper ways to reduce crime.' "

Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, and Nebraska are among those states considering abolishing
executions at least partly as a way to cut state expenses. So the death penalty may finally be put down not because we've taken the moral high ground, but because some state governments have finally been forced to look at the bottom line.